Government gridlock. A shrinking middle-class. Companies sitting on billions of dollars, and refusing to reinvest in expansion. Banks seemingly inventing fees to gouge the consumer (come on, does it take that much money to manage other people’s money?). Politicians putting party affiliations and self-interests before the greater good. CEO’s, corporate officers, high-level financial decision-makers (you know…those “best and brightest” who are partly—but not exclusively—responsible for nearly tanking America’s market economy) still earning indefensible incomes and bonuses. And as a result of all of this sociopolitical chaos, people have finally taken to the streets and started putting the pressure of the voting electorate on those responsible.
But there are two distinct groups of protestors who seem to getting on their respective soap boxes and adopting the mantle of the voice of the American people. On one hand, there is the Tea Party movement, which purports to speak for the shrinking American middle class, and is opposed to larger government, the current tax structure, and for all things conservative…including social policies. In the last year, they have organized locally and even marched on Washington D.C in an effort to promote these and other conservative forms of government.
On the other hand, there is the Occupy Wall Street movement, which has targeted the banking and lending industries and local government offices by attempting to cause disruptions in day-to-day commerce and the business of government. Their primary aim is to put faces on the economic suffering of the “99%” of Americans they say they represent—those who do not command large salaries, hold public offices, and who have been “victimized” by corporate greed and government apathy toward their suffering. They are opposed to corporate greed, the Big Money influence in government, unemployment, and the current economic state of the nation.
At some points, there is a blurring of the line of policies that these two disparate groups oppose that gives the impression of a single populist uprising, such as the issue of the influence of Big Money in the political process. But with more social issues on their agenda, the Tea Party movement is distinctly different from the more ambiguous, seemingly more progressive Occupy Wall Street movement. So the question of the moment is which group and/or movement speaks you?