Notes From the Occupation: Class Consciousness and Loyalty

Yesterday, as many of you know, the Tea Party held a counter-protest opposite Occupy Denver.  Well, sort of.  You see, the counter-protest was officially cancelled, due to the cold, but some people showed up anyway.  But I’m not writing to compete over numbers.  What I want to talk about is class.

See, the average Occupier is working class (or, looking to find work so as to become working-class).  The average Tea Partier is also working class.  I say working class and not middle class because, let’s face it, the reason both groups are pissed off is because there really is no middle class any more.  There’s the working class, and the ruling class.  And, if one of yesterday’s rallies was in support of the working class and the other was in opposition to it, then the one in opposition must be in favor of the ruling class, right?  And which one does the Tea Party support?

I bring this up so I can tell you a story.  I’ve never really gotten into what I do for a living at this site.  I’ve talked a lot about my time as an educator, and occasionally various other professions I’ve had.  But I’ve always kind of left my current profession out.  There are a lot of reasons for that, but one of the main ones is that my job sometimes makes me feel like a traitor to the working class.  The industry in which I make my living is widely viewed by my fellow leftists as being part of our very own Axis of Evil, and there are times when I look down on the street from my office window and wonder if I am indeed a sellout.

This feeling was brought harshly to the forefront of my mind, screaming and yelling and waving its arms, while I marched with the Occupiers down the 16th Street Mall yesterday afternoon.  Amidst chants of “The People… United… Will Never Be Divided,” my own voice was barely discernible to my friend next to me, as I described to him my fears of being spotted by my colleagues.  After all, we walked right past my place of business, and we walked right past it on purpose, because that part of town is where many of those against whom the Occupation is protesting can be found.

That includes me.

Sort of, anyway.  I’m not part of the 1%.  I make a pretty good living, but nothing close to what would qualify me as part of the ruling class.  And followed by my concern about being seen by the wrong people was an even worse sensation of shame.  Shame that I would ever let something like that get in the way of doing what I know for a cold, hard fact to be absolutely right. So I marched.  Proudly.

But I told you that story so I could tell you this (and thank you, Ron White, for coming up with that ever-so-appropriate segue).

People in the Tea Party never experiences these types of conflicting emotions.

Yes, that is a very broad generalization, I know.  But I hold it accurate.  The Tea Party membership is not self-aware.  Here I must distinguish between the membership and the leadership, because the leadership is, in fact, the ruling class.  They run the Tea Party.  They write its talking points.  They determine its agenda.  Shawn Mitchell, State Senator (and Colorado President of the ultra-right-wing-Tea-Party-before-there-was-a-Tea-Party Federalist Society) was the one who organized yesterday’s counter-protest, which the local news had the unmitigated gall to call “grassroots.”  But the membership of the Tea Party isn’t the ruling class.  They membership is working class, just like those in the Occupation.

Some people recognize our common cause.  This guy does…

… and he recognizes that while there are differences of opinion on how to solve those problems, those differences are based more in the misinformation of some than they are based on the availability of a wide variety of valid solutions.

While Tea Party folk hold that “The Occupy Wall Street movement correctly identifies some of the problems our country faces… However, instead of proposing solutions that would take our country toward renewed prosperity, OWS instead advocates policies that would make things worse. History shows us the way forward: what we need instead are more free markets and more liberty…”

…and Shawn Mitchell tells us that “what we need is not more government, but more freedom… the answer isn’t to kneecap corporations… The answer is to reform government and get it out of the business of trying to manage the economy.”

Of course, what this really means is that we need to cut governmental oversight and social programs, and institute more tax cuts.  Which we’ve been doing for over 30 years.  And it’s worked out really well for some people.  A small group, to be sure, only 1% of the total population.  The other 99% of us, Tea Party membership included, have been getting trickled on by trickle down for at least a generation.

I guess what I’m getting at is this:

If you’re a member of the Tea Party, and you’re supporting plans like those put forth by guys like Shawn Mitchell, you are working against your own best interest.  You might think that history has proven out your assumptions, but I challenge you to find a single example of such a thing actually taking place.  I’ll save you some time; there are none.

Tea Party membership, I leave you with this message:

Stop being deceived.  The people you are following are using you as cannon fodder in your own subjugation.  You are the 99%.  We are the 99%.  We are all the working class.  Tea Party leadership is the 1%, , the ruling class, and they do not have your best interest at heart.  They divide us so as to conquer us.  And as long as they are successful, none of us will ever see our dreams realized. If we are to be free, we need each other.


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