Not too long ago we had the Tea Party rallies. They were an organized, ‘grass-roots’ movement that was heavily promoted on Fox News and bashed by MSNBC. They were people rallying against taxation. At first, most politicians on the right, were incredibly wary of them. A few joined with them and many give the Tea Party credit for the Republican wave of 2010 and the blame for the budget standoff.
Now we have the Occupy Wall Street movement. It is difficult to say if they are organized as of yet or if they are truly grass roots. They are, however, being promoted by many at MSNBC and bashed by Fox News. At first, most politicians on the on left were wary of them but not they are beginning to cozy up. It’s impossible to say where this movement will lead, if it continues.
I was thinking of these movements and mayhem. People on either side do not like to be compared, but they have a lot more in common than anyone involved would like to admit.
The first thing is this. People are not happy with the direction the country is moving in. Unemployment is high and investments are down. The disparity between those who have and those who do not have has widened. Speaking locally, our Soup Kitchen is more crowded than every before, the Health Fair will be crowded, and we are giving away more clothing than ever. Many people who are employed would consider themselves under-employed. They have jobs that pay too little and many folks are over-qualified for the jobs they are seeking. Our foreign policy and the war on terror remain question marks as they have for many years.
The second thing is this. Our political system is broken. The two parties are further apart than ever before. In New Albany the Sherman Minton Bridge remains closed. As this bridge connects two different Congressional districts, served by people of opposing parties, there was a question: Have John Yarmuth and Todd Young spoken to each other? When queried their answers were the same. “Our offices have spoken to each other.” Neither of these men have bothered to speak directly. Rules are used to stall political process and neither party will budge.
If people are unhappy and the political process is broken people take to the streets. The people taking to the streets may not agree how to solve problems, they they agree on two things: they do not like the state of the nation and they do not trust elected officials. Politicians of both parties may sneer at the ‘other group,’ but they ought to sneer at themselves in the mirror. Much of the blame falls at their feet.
Often these movements turn into mobs and create mayhem. When this happens, things happen.
In my lifetime I never expected the Soviet bloc and the Soviet Union to collapse. Mobs brought them down.
Algeria. Same thing.
Egypt. Same thing.
In the 1770's an English King scorned mobs as well and thought they would come to nothing. He was breath-takingly wrong.
Political leaders on both sides may need to open their eyes and ears and hearts because the movements afoot may not bring good tidings to them.
Frighteningly, I don’t know if they bring good tidings or bad tidings to any of us, Tea Party or Wall Street occupation alike.