Why I Didn’t Participate in “Occupy vs. Tea Party”

I was initially very excited to participate in “Occupy vs. Tea Party” because I viewed it as a platform to bring the two political movements together through dialogue.  The confrontational framing of the “debate” seemed like an obstacle that could be overcome by focusing on problems upon which both “sides” seem to agree: the central banking cartel, the destruction of civil liberties, the disempowerment of the general public, etc.

The first indication that this would be a misadventure was the so called “tea partiers” that were selected to participate.  As one liberty blogger noted “this should be called ‘Occupy vs. NeoCons”.  While one or two of the so called “tea partiers” are liberty-oriented activists, most of them seem to be 2nd wave Tea Party who are more aligned with neocon ideology than the liberty ideology upon which the Tea Party was founded.  One particularly unpleasant participant is a racist shock-jock whose built a career by spreading fear of Islam.  I attempted to bring a liberty-focused tea party organizer onto the show and he was given the run around and then rejected.

The second indication that this would be a misadventure was that Gordon, the show’s producer, gave us no information about his intentions.  Despite a brief phone call, I had no information about the show: no idea what the format was, how the video would be distributed, whether we were receiving any compensation (or free tickets) or if we had rights to footage.  No doubt it was a sloppy operation.  Then, four days before “Occupy vs. Tea Party” was supposed to take place and after numerous attempts to contact Gordon, the Occupy team received an email with the format of the show.  The so-called “debate” would involve each team voting its own members out of the debate.  This extra dimension turned what could have been a fruitful debate into a circus, and that was the idea.  Gordon suggested we “roll with” the other surprises he had in store for us.  I’m not interested in being involved in a circus-style reality show.  If I were, I’d make sure to find one that was offering prizes.

In my short political history, I’ve been involved in both occupy and liberty movement organizing, and I believe that substantial political change is impossible in this country until those two movements come together.  I didn’t believe “Occupy vs. Tea Party” would provide a platform for that type of work to take place, and thus, didn’t participate in the event.

The experience of planning to debate tea partiers has inspired me to commit to doing more organizing that brings the two groups together.  Stay tuned for that.