|Occupy Miami Protesters|
Not likely. The protests don't seem to be swelling into a mass movement. And they're being hijacked by the usual congeries of lefty fringe groups, which are diluting the Occupiers' most compelling message--that America is increasingly a land of unequal opportunity where hard work and self-reliance are no longer rewarded. Most important, though, the counterweight theory itself is flawed.
|Bedding A Radical|
It's likely, however, that the Tea Party's success owes more to economic distress than to ideological stridency. When Americans are hurting, the party in charge invariably takes a hit. Before accepting the notion that liberals need a Tea Party of their own, it's worth noting that the movement's influence may be waning. It's telling that Mitt Romney--who arouses zero enthusiasm among the Tea Party faithful--nonetheless seems to be chugging steadily toward the GOP nomination. If he wins, does the Tea Party lose?
After all, the broad American center is angry too, and for the same basic reasons as the protestors in Zuccotti Park. Cut through all the anti-capitalist claptrap and what you hear is the plaintive cry of a middle class in distress. Who isn't angry that Washington bailed out the big banks--which almost immediately reaped fat profits and went back to handing out obscene bonuses--but couldn't offer effective help to the millions of middle class Americans who lost their jobs, their houses, and their savings? In fact, Occupiers and Tea Partiers are united in their disdain for Wall Street.
A final point: Movements for radical change are sometimes necessary to force sensitive subjects onto the nation's political agenda. But not all radicals are simply liberals in a hurry. Those that advance their demands in the name of the fuller realization of America's creedal values have a shot at eventually winning wider public support. Examples include the anti-slavery, progressive (new deal), and civil rights movements. But radicals who demand revolution rather than reformation, and prescribe remedies contrary to those creedal values--see the Communists, the Weather Underground, the Black Panthers--provoke a powerful backlash.