The First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States guarantees the protection of “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” In other words, we do have the right to non-violently protest.  However, because of activists like Van Jones and his admiration of conservative strategy, it is important to note the philosophical, political, and practical differences between the Tea Party Movement and Occupy Wall Street.

The Tea Party Movement started in 2009 in response to the irresponsibility of the Obama Administration, starting with bank bailouts and a hefty stimulus package in 2008.  They saw the infiltration of progressive monetary policy in the United States, and attempted to draw attention to the danger of big government. Over the course of 2009 and 2010, Tea Partiers rallied in cities across the country to show disdain for current policies and events, and to rouse support to further the political influence of Tea Party-supported politicians such as Scott Brown (R-MA).  While major conservative politicians and organizations such as FreedomWorks, Governor Sarah Palin, and Glenn Beck support the grassroots movement, former Texas congressman Dick Armey explains, “There is nobody running the Tea Party Movement… [it is] the biggest swing movement on the field.”

Liberals like Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has called the Tea Party movement “astroturf”, while lauding the OWS movement for being “spontaneous” and “focused.”

Those participating in the “Occupy Wall Street” Movement began gathering in Manhattan’s Liberty Square to express discontent with the economic recession through continued occupation of public domain in dozens of cities across the United States.  Occupiers target ‘greedy’ Wall Street bankers and those who ‘hoard’ wealth; they model their behavior after the recent Egyptian and Grecian riots.  The movement is not only violent and disrespectful, but also associated with anti-Semitic, anti-American terrorists.  Perhaps most unfortunately, “Occupy” has been placed on a glamorous pedestal by the media and in academia.  Time magazine has named “the protestor” as “Person of the Year” for 2011, and the Smithsonian Institute is creating a museum devoted to the “Occupy” efforts.  Not surprisingly, Obama has also endorsed “Occupy Wall Street” openly.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=glduOO0n6b4]

Progressives have pulled the victim card yet again, and Americans must reject this attempt at pushing responsibility onto industry.  Furthermore, many protestors are clueless as to why they’re actually there.  Their lack of knowledge in history allows them to desire a re-institution of communism, obviously a failed system of governance (as illustrated by the fall of the USSR and others).

However, this cannot be seen as only benign unrest from within; that mindset, held by the vast majority of the movement, will contribute to the destruction of the American Western culture and free market system – leading the charge toward socialism. While most “Occupy” demonstrations involving chanting and waving signs seem futile, we must realize the danger behind the mindset of all these jobless, equally lazy, historically ignorant, and ungrateful protestors.

According to Slate magazine, the Tea Party Movement is “losing something by not getting out in the streets.” In my opinion, the Tea Party Movement is setting an example by not “getting out in the streets.”  The Tea Party Movement represents the traditional, hard-working American who wants to support and elect leaders who will advocate a free market.  The values of the Tea Party Movement are alive in conservatives across the nation; it just looks different from pointless and utterly obnoxious “Occupy Wall Street” Movement stakeouts.

The key distinctions between the Tea Party Movement and “Occupy Wall Street” prove a disagreement between conservatives and progressives on the true purpose of protest, and what type of situation constitutes a protest.  The Huffington Post refers to the Tea Party Movement as a “national embarrassment.”  Even ACORN founder Walter Rathke states, “Comparing the Tea Party movement to occupy Wall Street is apples and oranges.” The two can’t be compared because they each advocate two different systems with two different goals.

I’d say the sense of entitlement embraced by those who occupy Wall Street and want to institute socialism is much more embarrassing than Americans who want to operate under a laissez-faire system that promotes freedom and opportunity.

Sydney Phillips // Lee University // @sydphillips