Comparing DSA and OWS to the Tea Party

For the establishment media, socialism is an extremely flexible thing.

On one hand, socialism has failed and been discredited. It's followers have already abandoned it. Any poor soul who still gives it a second thought is an anachronism deserving of public humiliation.

On the other hand, socialism is a scary force that is taking over everything. Socialism is hiding under your bed, lurking around every corner, is plotting to take away your children, and destroy everything that is good in the world.

Unlike virtually everything else in life, socialism can be whatever its detractors say it is. At the same time, whatever it's supporters say can safely be ignored.

Truthdig had a good article about this.

Following the losses, corporate media outlets were quick to declare the Democratic left wing dead in the water:

“Bernie and His Army Are Losing 2018” (Politico, 8/8/18)
“Down Goes Socialism” (Politico, 8/8/18)
“Democratic Party’s Liberal Insurgency Hits a Wall in Midwest Primaries” (Washington Post, 8/8/18)
“Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Movement Failed to Deliver Any Stunners Tuesday Night” (CNN, 8/8/18)
“The Far Left Is Losing” (US News & World Report, 8/8/18)
“Most Candidates Backed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Bernie Sanders Falter” (Wall Street Journal, 8/8/18)
“Socialist Pin-Up Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Sees Four Candidates FAIL in Tuesday Primary Contests, With One Coming in Fourth Out of Five” (Daily Mail, 8/8/18)
“Socialist Torchbearers Flame Out in Key Races, Despite Blitz by Bernie Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez” (Fox News, 8/8/18)
“If Democrats Embrace Socialism to Get Away From Donald Trump, They Can Kiss the Midterms Goodbye” (USA Today, 8/22/18)
“Why ‘Medicare for All’ Is Playing Poorly in Democratic Primaries” (Politico, 8/21/18)

So socialism is dead and buried. It was laughable that those crazy left-wingers even tried. So stupid.
There's just one little thing: Those crazy left-wingers aren't paying attention, or don't care, about the news media obituaries.


So socialism then becomes the Tea-Party-Of-The-Left.

Looking at the actual mix of success and failure by insurgent Democrats, it’s hard not to conclude that they have received inordinately skeptical treatment by corporate media, particularly receiving much more negative press than the 2010 Tea Party insurgency in the Republican Party, which Sanders’ movement has often been compared to. CBS News (8/13/18) even called Ocasio-Cortez the “Sarah Palin of the left.”

First of all, the Tea Party accomplished many of its goals, so comparing the DSA to the Tea Party is only a negative for someone on the left.
Secondly, the Tea Party had heavy corporate backing, and was embraced by the GOP.
The DSA has no corporate backing and is hated by establishment Democrats.

Then it occurred to me that this false comparison has been made before.

Mic: What the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street Have in Common

As the movement gains momentum, it seems to be taking off in an eerily similar way to another political wave which has swept the country since 2008: the Tea Party.

The Occupy Wall Street protesters wave signs broadly demanding a better economic system, less government interference, an end to costly war, and a greater focus on privacy.

Sound familiar? Limits on government intrusion into Americans’ private lives and economic reform are also major talking points for Tea Partiers.

Strikingly, both of these movements claim they represent the voice of average Americans, and they are right.

WashPost: Occupy Wall Street vs. Tea Party

Conservative commentators Karl Rove and George Will argue this week that the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement isn’t comparable to the Tea Party, reasoning that the former is composed of whiners and extremists while the latter is all about mom and apple pie.

But nearly every complaint these commentators lodge against the OWS protesters could have applied to the Tea Party in its early days, and many still do.

HuffPost: The Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street Movements

Both are frustrated with a government and institutions who are seen as overstepping their bounds, driven by self-interest and no longer serving the “American people.”
Both have leveraged the energy into large gatherings of people in order to be a visible and passionate expression of that frustration.
Both are claiming to speak on behalf of a large sector of the United States who share their frustration.
Both have been targets of media and political sensationalism and labeled, “anarchist” “fringe” or “radical” and have had “bad apples” used as sources for broad sweeping characterizations.
Both have individuals — the aforementioned “bad apples” — who act in ways that do not represent the core values of the movement.
Both have had politicians, entertainers, organizations and religious leaders pledge their support.
Both illicit strong emotional responses from those who see themselves as part of the ideological opposition.

So OWS and the DSA are just like the Tea Party, except for their agendas, their backers, their participants, their values, and their lack of establishment allies.
Otherwise they are the same.

The fact that they won't go away makes them very, very scary.

Conservative news stations like Fox News scream on the daily about how scary democratic socialism is, while print outlets continue to churn out anti-socialist hit pieces:

“Democratic Socialism Is Dem Doom” (New York Times, 7/6/18)
“Democrats Embracing Socialism Is Dangerous for America” (The Hill, 8/12/18)
“Bernie Sanders and the Misery of Socialism” (Wall Street Journal, 6/25/18)
“Sorry, Democratic Socialists—You’re Still Pushing Poison” (New York Post, 8/5/18)
“They Call Themselves Socialists, but They Don’t Know the Meaning of the Word” (Miami Herald, 7/26/18)
“It’s the Spoiled Children of America Who Are Drawn to Socialism” (Chicago Tribune, 7/26/18)
“Democratic Socialism Threatens Minorities” (The Atlantic, 8/9/18)
“Democratic Socialism: Who Knew That ‘Free’ Could Cost So Much?” (Investor’s Business Daily, 8/8/18)
“Socialism Returns: An Old Adversary” (Commentary, 8/14/18)
“Democratic Socialism Breaks the Bank” (Las Vegas Review-Journal, 8/16/18)

So yeh, the DSA has been treated by the media just like the Tea Party was....except for all the negative coverage. Otherwise, they are just the same.

30 users have voted.


Not Henry Kissinger's picture

So OWS and the DSA are just like the Tea Party, except for their agendas, their backers, their participants, their values, and their lack of establishment allies.
Otherwise they are the same.

Their average incomes.

Driving wedges between rural tea partiers and urban progressives is so counter productive.

It doesn't matter how these groups were formed, they both tap into the same frustration with the economy that has seen workers wages stagnate since the 70's and a silent depression since 2008.

Both groups are also antiwar, which I would hope counts for something.

Look, people are hurting all over, but they're getting motivated. That's a good thing.

Yet if we continue perpetuating division, all that energy will go nowhere, and the PTB will laugh at our foolishness for so kindly helping them keep groups with similar core issues at each others' throats.

15 users have voted.
Mark from Queens's picture

The Tea Party was a rebranding of the most extremist RW, conservative elements of the Republican party by billionaire operative Koch Bros and their cronies in the media. They paid for completely duped old grumpy white folks to be driven around in paid-for buses ("hey, a day out, AND, we get a free ride on this nice bus and lunch (and probably other goodies too)" to act out like imbecilic children at Democratic Party member's town halls in order to disrupt any talk of single-payer healthcare. And their mouthpiece was some business "reporter" dunce on CNBC.
Not exactly grassroots.
Pure Astroturf.

"Keep your gubmint hands off my Medicaid." Not exactly intelligent either.

I don't have the time now to espouse all I'd like on how amazing it was and life-changing personally for me to have come upon so many dedicated, highly intelligent and deeply compassionate people of all walks and stripes, committed to occupying public space in NYC to call attention to the real problem of American government, which was Money In Politics, and the direct, outlandish and evil influence Wall St and Corporate America has on it, as well as the inextricable links to monopoly, the prison industrial complex, imperialism, our education system, the farm industry, Big Pharma, etc etc etc.

Occupy may have went over most people's heads during its life (when it wasn't also disparaged relentlessly by the MSM or more precisely, blacked out in coverage). It's now, however, with this ongoing economic slog offering no relief in sight, largely seen as very prescient and the pathway to Socialism earning its rightful place as the only humane answer to capitalism gone amok.

And leaders? I'll take Eugene Debs on that, rather than the chorus of mainstream naysayers sitting in their comfortable offices looking a their comfortable 401k's snickering while sipping their lattes.

“I would not be a Moses to lead you into the Promised Land. Because if I could lead you into it, someone else could lead you out of it.”

As far as DSA goes, I'm having lunch next week with one of the main Queens organizers of the Ocasio campaign. Will let you know if there's anything interesting to report.

17 users have voted.

"If I should ever die, God forbid, let this be my epitaph:


- Kurt Vonnegut

Mark from Queens's picture

@Mark from Queens



14 users have voted.

"If I should ever die, God forbid, let this be my epitaph:


- Kurt Vonnegut

Just like the successful effort to make "liberal" a bad word, an effort started after the 1964 election, when "liberal" was a very patriotic word. It's hard to stop billionaires who want to be oligarchs and who know, what George Orwell told us, that if you control the language, you control the people.

17 users have voted.

Beware the bullshit factories.

JekyllnHyde's picture


Conveniently forgetting to use the complete term "Democratic Socialist" is implying in not-so-subtle fashion that Socialism = State Socialism = Stalinism. After three years of Bernie Sanders being on the national political radar, his supporters understand that Democratic Socialism = FDR Liberalism, a vast improvement over current-day Neoliberalism.

I don't think too many people are fooled by this kind of scaremongering, either. Moreover, the vast number of people 40 years or younger don't really have much of a memory about the Cold War nor were old enough to fully comprehend all the terms bandied about during that decades-long ideological struggle.

Think Elizabeth Warren And Bernie Sanders Are The Same? She Doesn’t.
They are friends, partners in the Senate, and leaders of a progressive movement. But Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are not the same. “He’s a socialist, and I believe in markets.”

Now, people like to put another question to Warren.

“What’s the difference between you and Bernie Sanders?”

Just four years ago, no one would have even thought to ask. With the 2020 primary months away, it’s one of the questions Warren gets most.

The new and pressing reality facing the Massachusetts senator is this: Elizabeth Warren, once a singular power on the left, is now a name that people conflate with Bernie Sanders.

The question, by its very existence, reflects a remarkable shift in progressive power from 2008, when both senators appeared at their sleepy town hall in Montpelier, Vermont, to the four-year span that marked the end of the Obama administration and ushered in the Trump era. Even some of her biggest supporters in the progressive community admit that the energy around Warren isn’t the same as it was four years ago, when she fashioned herself as a kind of mirror to Obama. Where he avoided confrontation, she picked big public fights on economic policy. That strategy, combined with a more tactical behind-the-scenes effort to “influence incentives,” as her team would put it, is no longer quite a natural fit in the chaos of the Trump administration — leading some progressives to ask if she missed her moment by forgoing a run in 2016...

Now, when Warren gets the question, she has her answer ready.

“He’s a socialist,” she’ll say, “and I believe in markets.”

16 users have voted.

A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma

mimi's picture

...she deserves the crash of the markets.

It's so disappointing.

To distract me from it, I watched the following video about the 50 year's anniversary video on The Real News Networks about the 68 anti-Vietnam war demonstrations and the DNC 68 Convention in Chicago, which included comparison to today's activists struggles.

50 Years Ago: As World Watched, Chicago Police Attacked Protesters at ’68 Democratic Convention - August 30, 2018

It's a longish piece. For me it was informative.

13 users have voted.

Love is all we have to give.

@mimi this is where the right and what would become the neo libs decided that the people had too much influence in governing and money and power needed to reclaim it's rightful place.

12 users have voted.

Yes, the Tea Party Movement was not attacked by the major media. In fact their influence and numbers were inflated by mass media coverage beyond their size. If the media made Trump during the primaries, the media also made Tea Party when it first appeared.

Yes, the democratic party establishment and party lackies at TOP attacked OWS once they were put down. I don't remember gop attacking them.

OWS was violently put down by a coordinated attack almost ordered right out of the Oval Office that included police departments controlled by democrats.

The gop did not cheat the Tea Party in the primaries witness the number of incumbents they put down. And given that Trump won over establishment figures and he was hated by the goper establishment. I am taking that Bernie and progressive movement as a follow on to OWS.

18 users have voted.
The Aspie Corner's picture

It didn't take long for him to play the racist card or the "Ah! Ah! Ah! Teh Soshlizum! Bewhewhew Far Left!" card.

I also had a good laugh with regards to what he said about Cuba, i.e. "Raising the Cuban Flag with the 'Murican Flag is an insult to those who experienced the harsh Castro Regime."

Yeah, given how young this SOB is, I doubt he'd know what life was like in Cuba with Castro in charge, nor does he care that Cuba has the best medical system on the planet or that people flock from all over the world to Cuba to become doctors (doctors are also Cuba's leading export). I'm sure he'd be perfectly happy had that US backed dictator Batista were still in charge. Sure, the US pigs backed Castro initially, but actually tried to re-install Batista when Castro wouldn't bow to US corporate interests.

I would call DeSantis something else, but that would be stooping to his level.

13 users have voted.

Modern education is little more than toeing the line for the capitalist pigs.

Socialized police force. Protects the rich from robbery, the powerful from the weak. No problem, socialism works fine.
Socialized military. Protects overseas business interests of the rich. No problem, socialism works fine.
Socialized Fire Departments. Protects the property of the rich. No problem, socialism works fine.
Socialized Highway system. Allows the rich to market their goods. No problem, socialism works fine.

Socialized medicine. Rich already have access to the best medicine. Socialized medicine only helps the poor. We must beware of the scary socialists!!!!

16 users have voted.
JekyllnHyde's picture

@Battle of Blair Mountain

17 users have voted.

A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma

Brett Wilkins's picture

... that everyone reading this has been told by conservatives that Nazis were "socialist" because, national socialism. To which I always retort, "Just like the Democratic People's Republic of North Korea is a democracy?"

21 users have voted.
Brett Wilkins's picture

... that everyone reading this has been told by conservatives that Nazis were "socialist" because, national socialism. To which I always retort, "Just like the Democratic People's Republic of North Korea is a democracy?"

2 users have voted.
The Aspie Corner's picture

6 users have voted.

Modern education is little more than toeing the line for the capitalist pigs.

Mark from Queens's picture

First is from activist/feminist/playwright Eve Ensler, called "Ambiguous UpSparkles From the Heart of the Park," written a few weeks after it started.

I have been watching and listening to all kinds of views and takes on Occupy Wall Street. Some say it’s backed by the Democratic Party. Some say it’s the emergence of a third party. Some say the protesters have no goals, no demands, no stated call. Some say it’s too broad, taking on too much. Some say it is the Left’s version of the Tea Party. Some say its Communist, some say it’s class warfare. Some say it will burn out and add up to nothing. Some say it’s just a bunch of crazy hippies who may get violent.

I have been spending time down at Zucotti Park and I am here to offer a much more terrifying view. What is happening cannot be defined. It is happening. It is a happening. It is a response to injustice and inequity and poverty and Wall Street corruption and soaring college debt and unemployment and homelessness, institutionalized racism and violence against women, the murdering of the earth, fracking and the keystone pipeline and the wars that the U.S. has waged on other countries that have destroyed them and bankrupted us here.

It is a cry against what appears to be scarcity and what Naomi Klein calls a distribution problem and, I would add, a priority problem. It is a spontaneous uprising that has been building for years in our collective unconscious. It is a gorgeous, mischievous moment that has arrived and is spreading. It is a speaking out, coming out, dancing out. It is an experiment and a disruption.

We all know things are terribly wrong in this country. From the death of our rivers, to the bankruptcy of our schools to our failed health care system, something at the center does not hold.

A diverse group of teachers, thinkers, students, techies, workers, nurses, have stopped their daily lives. They have come to gather and reflect and march and lay their bodies down. They have come from all over the country and the world. Some have flown in just to be here. I met students last night from a college in Kentucky who had just arrived committed to sleeping out for two nights in solidarity.

Occupy Wall Street is a work of art, exploding onto a canvas in search of form, in search of an image, a vision.

In a culture obsessed with product, the process of creation is almost unbearable. Nothing is more threatening than the moment, the living breathing ambiguity of now. We have been trained to name things, own things, brand things and in doing so control and consume them. Well, the genius of Occupy Wall Street is that so far it is not brandable and that’s what makes its potential so daunting, so far reaching, so inclusive, and so dangerous. It cannot be defined and so it cannot be sold, as a sound bite or a political party or even a thing. It can’t be summed up and dismissed.

What is also most unusual about Occupy Wall Street is that the evolving self-governing practices at the twice-daily General Assembly and the organic way the park is being organized, are literally modeling a vision of the desired new world. A rotating group of facilitators, a constant check to make sure all voices are heard, timekeepers, free medicine and medical help, composting, learning groups, a free library, learning circles, workshops on human rights, arts and culture, history, extraordinary speakers at open forums.

And, Taibbi in Rolling Stone just before the brutal, middle of the night invasion by the thugs in the NYPD, coordinated by a cabal of DHS, Homeland Security, city mayors, Fortune 500 companies and some nefarious-sounding thing called the Domestic Security Alliance.

"How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the OWS Protests

Much more than a movement against big banks, they’re a rejection of what our society has become."

That’s what I was thinking during the first few weeks of the protests. But I’m beginning to see another angle. Occupy Wall Street was always about something much bigger than a movement against big banks and modern finance. It’s about providing a forum for people to show how tired they are not just of Wall Street, but everything. This is a visceral, impassioned, deep-seated rejection of the entire direction of our society, a refusal to take even one more step forward into the shallow commercial abyss of phoniness, short-term calculation, withered idealism and intellectual bankruptcy that American mass society has become. If there is such a thing as going on strike from one’s own culture, this is it. And by being so broad in scope and so elemental in its motivation, it’s flown over the heads of many on both the right and the left.

The right-wing media wasted no time in cannon-blasting the movement with its usual idiotic clichés, casting Occupy Wall Street as a bunch of dirty hippies who should get a job and stop chewing up Mike Bloomberg’s police overtime budget with their urban sleepovers. Just like they did a half-century ago, when the debate over the Vietnam War somehow stopped being about why we were brutally murdering millions of innocent Indochinese civilians and instead became a referendum on bralessness and long hair and flower-child rhetoric, the depraved flacks of the right-wing media have breezily blown off a generation of fraud and corruption and market-perverting bailouts, making the whole debate about the protesters themselves – their hygiene, their “envy” of the rich, their “hypocrisy.”

The protesters, chirped Supreme Reichskank Ann Coulter, needed three things: “showers, jobs and a point.” Her colleague Charles Krauthammer went so far as to label the protesters hypocrites for having iPhones. OWS, he said, is “Starbucks-sipping, Levi’s-clad, iPhone-clutching protesters [denouncing] corporate America even as they weep for Steve Jobs, corporate titan, billionaire eight times over.” Apparently, because Goldman and Citibank are corporations, no protester can ever consume a corporate product – not jeans, not cellphones and definitely not coffee – if he also wants to complain about tax money going to pay off some billionaire banker’s bets against his own crappy mortgages.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the political spectrum, there were scads of progressive pundits like me who wrung our hands with worry that OWS was playing right into the hands of assholes like Krauthammer. Don’t give them any ammunition! we counseled. Stay on message! Be specific! We were all playing the Rorschach-test game with OWS, trying to squint at it and see what we wanted to see in the movement. Viewed through the prism of our desire to make near-term, within-the-system changes, it was hard to see how skirmishing with cops in New York would help foreclosed-upon middle-class families in Jacksonville and San Diego.

What both sides missed is that OWS is tired of all of this. They don’t care what we think they’re about, or should be about. They just want something different.

We’re all born wanting the freedom to imagine a better and more beautiful future. But modern America has become a place so drearily confining and predictable that it chokes the life out of that built-in desire. Everything from our pop culture to our economy to our politics feels oppressive and unresponsive. We see 10 million commercials a day, and every day is the same life-killing chase for money, money and more money; the only thing that changes from minute to minute is that every tick of the clock brings with it another space-age vendor dreaming up some new way to try to sell you something or reach into your pocket. The relentless sameness of the two-party political system is beginning to feel like a Jacob’s Ladder nightmare with no end; we’re entering another turn on the four-year merry-go-round, and the thought of having to try to get excited about yet another minor quadrennial shift in the direction of one or the other pole of alienating corporate full-of-shitness is enough to make anyone want to smash his own hand flat with a hammer.

If you think of it this way, Occupy Wall Street takes on another meaning. There’s no better symbol of the gloom and psychological repression of modern America than the banking system, a huge heartless machine that attaches itself to you at an early age, and from which there is no escape. You fail to receive a few past-due notices about a $19 payment you missed on that TV you bought at Circuit City, and next thing you know a collector has filed a judgment against you for $3,000 in fees and interest. Or maybe you wake up one morning and your car is gone, legally repossessed by Vulture Inc., the debt-buying firm that bought your loan on the Internet from Chase for two cents on the dollar. This is why people hate Wall Street. They hate it because the banks have made life for ordinary people a vicious tightrope act; you slip anywhere along the way, it’s 10,000 feet down into a vat of razor blades that you can never climb out of.

That, to me, is what Occupy Wall Street is addressing. People don’t know exactly what they want, but as one friend of mine put it, they know one thing: FUCK THIS SHIT! We want something different: a different life, with different values, or at least a chance at different values.

There was a lot of snickering in media circles, even by me, when I heard the protesters talking about how Liberty Square was offering a model for a new society, with free food and health care and so on. Obviously, a bunch of kids taking donations and giving away free food is not a long-term model for a new economic system.

But now, I get it. People want to go someplace for at least five minutes where no one is trying to bleed you or sell you something. It may not be a real model for anything, but it’s at least a place where people are free to dream of some other way for human beings to get along, beyond auctioned “democracy,” tyrannical commerce and the bottom line.

We’re a nation that was built on a thousand different utopian ideas, from the Shakers to the Mormons to New Harmony, Indiana. It was possible, once, for communities to experiment with everything from free love to an end to private property. But nowadays even the palest federalism is swiftly crushed. If your state tries to place tariffs on companies doing business with some notorious human-rights-violator state – like Massachusetts did, when it sought to bar state contracts to firms doing business with Myanmar – the decision will be overturned by some distant global bureaucracy like the WTO. Even if 40 million Californians vote tomorrow to allow themselves to smoke a joint, the federal government will never permit it. And the economy is run almost entirely by an unaccountable oligarchy in Lower Manhattan that absolutely will not sanction any innovations in banking or debt forgiveness or anything else that might lessen its predatory influence.

It goes on like this in one of his more beautifully evocative pieces. Read the whole thing.

Show me words written about the TP that are even close to being on the same level. It's not even comparable.

14 users have voted.

"If I should ever die, God forbid, let this be my epitaph:


- Kurt Vonnegut