Is it true that the middle class is evaporating? This seems to be the impression that has been inflicted on me by the news media. With the Tea Party gaining clout in the 2012 Presidential race and the Occupy Wall Street movement growing across the country, I wonder who truly wins in the class warfare that is happening in our country.
When the Tea Party was organizing in 2008 around libertarian values of reducing government waste, controlled spending, and zero-based balanced budgeting, I was ready to sign on to support the effort. I do not believe it is the intention of honest public servants to waste taxpayers’ money, but there was not enough awareness to audit agency spending and executive level perks. Opportunities were abound for reductions and eliminations to create meaningful savings that could be passed back to the taxpayers in the form of tax cuts and refunds. In my state, then-candidate Donald Carcieri ran for Governor back in 2002 on the concept of “The Big Audit”, yet I wonder what truly happened to that effort in his eight years in office as little reductions were made and much blame was passed around between the Governor’s administration and the state legislature.
Fast forward to today. Big banks have slapped the faces of its customers and American taxpayers after their federal government bailouts as new mounting fee structures are developed to cast their less profitable customers out of their banks. In a strategy to renew stock prices and corporate wealth, the lower income and less disposable income the customer has available, the less interested these big banks want to keep these customers despite their longevity and customer loyalty. Their actions could not be a better case study for the age old argument of “the rich get richer while the poor get poorer”. The Occupy Wall Street movement has a notable point to raise awareness of corporate greed and how taxpayers are becoming squeezed out of the American economy. However, their approach is all wrong.
There seems to be an insurgence of resurrecting the Vietnam era of sit-ins. Civil disobedience is a great way to capture news media attention with visuals of law enforcement in riot gear dragging young, innocent-looking people from sidewalks that are just expressing their voice for injustice. Yet, those Vietnam era protesters have now become the bureaucratic establishment in which today’s youth are fighting against. Lacking any real campaign finance reform laws (Remember, you Occupy Wall Street activists voted for Obama instead of the leading advocate for campaign finance reform – John McCain), the large campaign donations are coming from those that represent Corporate America. President Obama certainly is not listening to you or caring about your issues. Hundreds of activists were arrested last month over the 350.org led White House protests on the Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline proposal. Obama just ignored the issue, yet all those arrested will likely still vote for him in the next election. Gay rights activists were verbally slapped in the face repeatedly over the weekend as Obama told the Human Rights Campaign that while he is against equal marriage, that his stance on the issue is “evolving”. Obama is continuing his discrimination against homosexual Americans, yet all those that are still not recognized under federal law as being married will likely still vote for him in the next election.
Many Americans that identify themselves as a supporter of the Tea Party Movement are those in what is left of the middle class. Libertarians by nature, these folks are hardworking people that have struggled and saved like the majority of us. They identify with the values of this movement when it began in 2008. A large number of them may hold the political ideology of the shift to focus on social issues that came after the 2008 Presidential Election in which drove out anyone that disagreed with what became of the Tea Party ‘s hardline conservative, religious-based values that we see today. No longer can they state that their movement is bipartisan as they have flung all remaining supporters into polarizing figures and calling any dissidents “RINO”s (Republicans in Name Only). Those original libertarians are now lost in a sea of minutia where their cause is overshadowed by hateful commentary and strict tenets that will crucify those that stray. I question whether everyday Americans that still identify with the Tea Party will benefit from the movement as it stands. Will money come back into taxpayers’ pockets as a result? Do you feel that if you disagree slightly with the movement that your voice will be heard? Sadly, I am doubtful.
Sabin’s Point: I like to have my own voice. In my time on this planet, I have hesitated to have anyone speak for me. If there has ever been a life lesson that I have acquired, it has been that “I have only one mouth, but two ears”. I believe that the average American that identifies with the Tea Party or the Occupy Wall Street movements are the true victims in the news media-created class warfare. Such polarizing viewpoints are helpful to spur public debate, but their leaders are of the upper class income elite from New York City, Washington, DC and Hollywood. Their income and stock portfolios depend more on the outcome of this fight than the rest of us. Without compromise, the Tea Party’s platform and the Occupy Wall Street’s demands will deadlock our country just as we are seeing members of Congress halt progress over signing their political lives away for the endorsement of one of these movements. Where does the fight begin and end for the average American and is it somewhere between these two polarizing movements? I cannot currently see who is fighting for me and how I will benefit. If there is anything to benefit from these groups, it is that it provides content for our country to have a real national conversation on “third-rail” issues, such as sex, religion, and personal finances.