This afternoon I posted a link to Dave Ramsey's "Dear Occupy Wall Street" blog, which raised some discussion on Facebook. I am a fan of Dave Ramsey's no-nonsense, pull yourself up from the bootstraps approach to personal finances, and I like his spitfire and sarcasm. He is straightforward and pulls no punches. He also holds strong opinions about Occupy Wall Street. Several times I thought about jumping in to my Facebook wall's exchange, but after several typing sprees and then lots of backspacing, I decided to just let it go.
Political commentary-- left, right or dead center-- makes me really uncomfortable because it tends to be emotionally driven and confrontational, and I am a confrontational wimp. You can almost hear the atoms start splitting in a room of mixed conservatives and liberals, and when it happens, I put on a frightened smile and wiggle deeper into the couch cushions.
Why is it that we generally cannot have a rational conversation between sides about the economy and government? Instead, one dissatisfied party shows disdain for the other and vice versa, when really, both parties should be rallying together for solutions.
The best way to ensure that nothing changes is for both sides to start flinging mud at each other. Criticizing the Occupy Wall Street movement because they look like a bunch of camped-out, jobless hippies completely dismisses the fact that people feel so strongly about something that they are protesting. Protesting is not a small deal. Criticizing the Tea Party movement because they look like a bunch of gun-toting, anti-government rednecks dismisses the fact that "gun-toting hillbillies" are actually organizing. Rallying for reform is not a small deal, either.
One thing is certain: The people, all of them, are dissatisfied with ____________.
Both camps -- OWS and the Tea Party -- are made up of culturally different groups of people (generally speaking), and because they don't understand one another, they think they are fundamentally at odds and so they do not want to be associated with one another. The media picks up on this dissonance and discredits the whole shebang because there are camped-out jobless hippies and gun-toting rednecks raising a ruckus, and if you can turn general dissatisfaction into ranting extremists, then the majority of people who don't consider themselves extremists won't affiliate with either side, and, like me, will probably keep their mouths shut for fear of being associated with a group of crazy people. Instead of fostering discussion and dialogue, the media and other loud people shut down all lines of communication, turning the cameras on the crazies instead of on any kind of useful debate.
By far my favorite response to "the other side"-- left or right-- is sarcastic dismissal, ruthless jabs, and defensive one-liners. There's no better way to isolate one's self and raise the emotional static in a room/facebook wall than to drop your favorite critical bomb on a topic, forcing the crowd to take cover under throw blankets.
I know this is totally a "can't we all just get along?" post, but really, can't we all just get along? Okay, so I think the fundamental difference between OWS and the Tea Party is that one is for bigger government and more control and the other is for smaller government and more freedom. One presupposes that the government should know what its doing and regulate the people/corporations who don't seem to know what they need, and the other presupposes that the people are responsible, ethical, fiscally motivated, and smart and don't need the fist of Big Brother jabbing around in their business. Those are two very different perspectives.
Meh. I can't handle any more. I'm afraid I might form an opinion and be classified as an Occupy Tea Wall Party Street member.