They want us segregated by ideological labels - Democrat vs. Republican, Occupy vs. Tea Party, Liberal vs. Conservative, Red vs. Blue. What they don’t want is for all of us to disregard those arbitrary labels and start talking to each other about how bad the aforementioned groups have all been extorting us to keep their power. They don’t want us mingling. They don’t want us organizing. That would be a power they couldn’t crush.
The most recent demonstration of that power happened on August 28, when far-left Occupiers concerned about the environment linked arms with far-right Tea Partiers concerned with property rights to totally shut down the first day of construction of the Keystone XL pipeline in Livingston, Texas, the heart of American oil country. The media all but ignored it in favor of diverting all attention to the RNC in Tampa, where a major political party's leaders endorsed a platform full of sexist, bigoted, class-biased bile that nobody should feel comfortable saying in a 21st-century society, and got all the cameras they could ever want.
The corporatocracy, or the system of corporations, the media they’ve bought and the successful political campaigns they’ve financed, saw the rise of the Occupy movement as their first big test. The media learned how to marginalize and mock a movement consisting of massive numbers of diverse groups of people when it was no longer possible to ignore them. Conservative messaging guru Frank Luntz taught politicians how to say “I get it” when confronted by constituents who confronted them with Occupy’s unifying 99% message. Corporations even learned to co-opt the language of a populist movement, and make revolution into a trendy concept they could then use to make money.
After a few months of taking blow after blow, the corporatocracy eventually adapted and grew more resilient, like a mutating virus. The camps were violently evicted by the cops, Occupy lost their permanent organizing spaces, the media declared the movement's death, and all of America’s power brokers collectively wiped sweat from their brow, heaved a huge sigh of relief and continued their class war unabated. They don’t mind if we’re still pissed off, just as long as its with each other instead of at them. They’ll show the 99% fighting with each other all day.
The Louisville Courier-Journal, owned by the Gannett Corporation, which owns major metropolitcan newspapers all over the country, reported on a Tea Party rally with Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul. The event drew protesters, and the last third of their video focuses on heated words between Occupy and Tea Party protesters. During one part of the argument, a Tea Partier insinuates an Occupier isn’t paying taxes. The Occupier replied,
Occupier: “I’m paying mine!” Tea Partier: “How much?” Occupier: “It doesn’t matter, we’re all equal!” Tea Partier: “No we’re not.”
Occupy’s biggest challenge, aside from bringing down the corporatocracy, is to convince the Tea Party that they’re also the 99 percent, that the system is screwing them just as bad as its screwing us, that their politicians only care about bringing more profits to the corporations who spent money to put them there. 2012, a year where a presidential election is polarizing us more than ever before, is the year to do it.
Imagine if every Occupier reading this found someone who affiliated with the Tea Party, got them away from a political rally and away from other Occupiers and Tea Partiers, and had a one-on-one conversation where you talked about life, instead of politics. I bet more often than not, these folks are working longer hours for less benefits than ever before, at possibly even two or even three jobs. Like us, they’re constantly living one paycheck away from eviction, or foreclosure, or default, or repossession. They’re probably fretting about how much their child’s college education is going to cost, or how they’ll ever be able to afford decent health care when they get older, and fretting over their dwindling retirement savings, assuming they had any to save in the first place. You may blame big corporations. They may blame big government. But you would both likely agree that it’s a bad thing for big corporations to buy politicians of either party and put them in office to do their bidding at the expense of the rest of us.
I bet that nine times out of ten, we’ll have more in common with Tea Partiers than the corporatocracy wants us to think. They know how to crack down on camps and label us all into neat little groups. They know how to get us to have counterproductive and childish fights with one another in front of a news camera. But they don’t know how to handle Occupy joining forces with the Tea Party. That’s exactly what the corporatocracy doesn’t want.