There's a diagram floating around the Internet that claims to show areas of agreement between Tea Party protesters and the Occupy Wall Street crowd. It's an idea supported by some pundits and media types as well. Even the president chimed in foolishly on the issue.
According to Obama, Occupy Wall Street isn't all that different from the Tea Party. "In some ways, they're not that different from some of the protests that we saw coming from the Tea Party," he told ABC's Jake Tapper. But that's like saying the Russian and American revolutions were the same, when one led to a Socialist dictatorship and the other led to more freedom than any nation has ever had.
Ohio Democrat Rep. Dennis Kucinich told CNN "I met with Tea Party people from the Cleveland area. And frankly they have a lot in common with the people who are occupying Wall Street around the country." Time magazine tried a similar approach, asking the question: "Occupy Wall Street: A Tea Party for the Left?" The anti-American, Russian state-sponsored RT even found one Tea Party person to draw a connection. But that doesn't make it true.
There's a term for saying that the two protest movements are similar or have common goals. We call that idiotic. Communists used to call those who did such nonsense "useful idiots," but either way you slice it, "idiotic" is the operative term.
Perhaps that's even too mild. At its heart, the Occupy Wall Street movement is a Big Government, anti-American, anti-success bunch that wants Uncle Sam to squeeze the rich and give them the results - in free college, government jobs and more. The Tea Party is its mirror opposite. Tea Party protesters are anti-Big Government, pro-American, pro-success voters who want Uncle Sam off their backs - or at least shrunk and to a manageable size so carrying the government doesn't break their backs.
Take a look around at one of the many mottos of the protest: "We are the 99 percent." As part of that, they bemoan the cost of everything and want government to step in. One common theme is that, to quote a protester, "college is too $$$." A protest website features 124 pages of "99 percent" complaints, including numerous whines about college costs. "I have an English degree that costs more to pay back than a job as a writer pays."
That fits with Occupy Wall Streets "declaration of demands" that includes this attack on corporations: "They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right." Soros-funded Moveon.org even has a petition calling to "forgive student loan debt" that has 573,903 signatures.
Then there's the Tea Party view, best embodied by CNBC's Rick Santelli in his famous rant heard round the world. Santelli was upset by bailouts, complaining: "This is America! How many of you people want to pay for your neighbors' mortgage that has an extra bathroom and can't pay their bills? ... President Obama, are you listening?"
For all that Occupiers are upset with Wall Street bailouts, they want one (or several) of their own. Tea Partiers want to be left alone - especially by government.
Occupy Wall Street loves government, but hates its current American form, aiming an endless stream of vitriol at America as protesters sing "F*** the USA" or the Occupy Los Angeles speaker calls for revolution by "violent means." Tea partiers are upset with Washington spending or the president, but love their nation.
Both groups do like to wave flags. The Occupy Wall Street crowd waves the corporate version of the American flag (where corporate logos replace the flag), the communist hammer and sickle, and even the black flag of anarchy. At the Tea Party events you can find several types of the American flag - including many sizes of the current 50-star version and some Gadsden flags. Occupiers literally walk all over the American flag. Tea Partiers treat our flag with respect.
Occupiers are also internationalists. Their protest went global with events in 82 countries including big ones in Spain, Germany and Italy. Of course, that also includes injuries to "at least 70 protesters" and "more than 30 policemen." Tea Partiers never cared if their movement went global; they cared that it went national.
Occupiers are often law breakers. Yes, thank God we have the 1st Amendment right to protest. But keep it legal, please. Seven hundred Occupiers were arrested when they tried to seize the Brooklyn Bridge. Boston police arrested another 140 who "allegedly tried to tie up traffic and refused to leave a large section of the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway," according to The Boston Globe. More than 1,800 Occupiers have been arrested (according to Twitter's Occupyarrests tracker) across the nation from Gainesville, Fla. to Portland, Ore. Tea Party people obey the law and few were ever arrested.
Right now, polling shows some support for the Occupy Wall Street protests, but that's largely the result of heavily spun media that hides all of the bad things about these demonstrations. When ordinary Americans see the extreme leftist nature of the protests, that will change in a big way. Then, perhaps, America will be ready for a spot of tea.
Dan Gainor is the Boone Pickens Fellow and the Media Research Center's Vice President for Business and Culture. His column appears each week on The Fox Forum. He can also be contacted on Facebook and Twitter as dangainor.