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Tea Partiers & the Occupy Movement: Two Different Sides Of The Same Coin

03/18/2014 11:34 EDT | Updated 05/18/2014 05:59 EDT

Much has been discussed concerning the increasing political polarization occurring globally. From the rise of the Occupy Movement on the left and the rise of neo-conservative groups such as the Tea Party, this polarization is having dramatic impact on the global political discourse. While many are utilizing these two polar opposites to highlight the increasing political gridlock occurring in national capitals, it is also symptomatic of the dramatic socio-economic changes have everyone in today's society looking for stability and a sense of purpose.

Much like the rise of Communism and fascism during the 1920s, the rise of the Occupy and Tea Party movements are a response to the dramatic changes occurring today. These two political movements are responding to the changing socio-economic conditions, including:

(1) Growing Income Inequality: On a global scale, the middle class is increasingly being hollowed out and replaced with two divides; the technocrats, who are profiting from the globalized technological society that is being created, and the working poor, who are slowly being automated into a destitute existence.

(2) Slowing Economic Mobility: The American Dream has always been the calling card of the capitalist system. The ability of individuals and families to build their own "rags to riches" story is what drives individuals to make sacrifices in their personal lives to succeed economically, since the payoff is increased financial reward and stability over the long term. However, this economic mobility has slowed for the vast majority of individuals globally. Whether it increases automation or accreditation creep, achieving the American Dream has increasingly been harder to accomplish.

(3) Growing Instability: The biggest reason for the rise of these two political movements is the growing socio-economic anxiety and instability. Individuals no longer have a straightforward career trajectory or guaranteed benefits. Today's employees increasingly need to be "corporate entrepreneurs" jumping at every opportunity to succeed and differentiate themselves since corporations no longer view employees from the perspective of loyalty but of short-term economic corporate benefit.

While the rise of the two mentioned political movements can be traced back to increasing instability in the economic system, the objectives of these systems are quite similar. In many respects, both political movements are attempting to address fundamental flaws with the current state of governance. These flaws include:

(1) Government Regulation: Many political pundits state that members of both political movements are to blame for the current political gridlock, but both parties claim to be addressing it in their own unique way. The Tea Party promotes downsizing government and giving individuals the freedom from regulations and government intervention, while liberating individuals to carve out their own destinies. The Occupy movement promotes more government regulation in order to ensure a fair and equitable playing field that has been tilted dramatically in favor of a narrow range of special interests.

(2) Effective and Speedy Response: Another aspect of governance that both political movements are attempting to address is the speed and effectiveness of government response. No longer are they willing to accept service within 4 to 6 weeks or for a significant price premium. The Internet and technology has increasingly taught society to demand more for less from everyone including government. Unfortunately, while governments are making a concerted effort to address these concerns, according to the mentioned political movements, they are not moving fast enough. From the Occupy Movement's perspective, cherished causes, such as the environment, are being buried under decision making clouded by special interest groups and lobbying. From the Tea Party perspective, the need to address everyone's concerns is clouding the real purpose of government, which is to ensure economic growth and prosperity.

(3) Role & Size of Government: Not only is there increasing demand by individuals for quicker and more effective government response, but both sides of the political spectrum are wondering whether government should be doing more in terms of adopting new technologies and methodologies from the private sector. While the traditional refrain from the Tea Party has been to downsize government, the left is also wondering how governments can adopt some of the same technologies and methodologies that have powered Silicon Valley global powerhouses. Whether it is utilizing the Internet to engage and to increase accountability and transparency, or leveraging new technology to provide services more efficiently at a reduced cost, the analysis continues.

Supporters on both side of the spectrum believe that their political movements will inevitably succeed in the. However, history has taught us that realistically, a successful outcome will probably be a balance between the two. The bigger question at this moment in history is whether or not these nascent movements are ready to address the changes occurring with the socio-economic foundations of society.

Just as the early 1920s political movements were dealing with an increasingly urbanized and educated populace that was transformed, today's political movements are being presented with the same socio-economic conditions. However, society is moving from an industrialized-based one to one that is based on knowledge and technology and increasingly requiring fewer individuals while the human population continues to grow.

The fundamental question that both political movements must address is whether they are truly addressing the fundamental changes occurring in today's society or whether they are merely playing a political game as society undergoes a dramatic upheaval. At present, both political movements appear to be merely playing the political game in the current format without addressing the fundamental changes occurring in society. There is a distinct belief on both sides that they will emerge completely victorious. Realistically, however, what supporters from both the Occupy and Tea Party movements need to recognize is for these socio-economic issues to be addressed, compromise is critical. Without it, the gridlock that is currently overwhelming all democratic systems will cause greater harm than good and will cause more individuals to slip further down the socio-economic ladder.