The tea party has just about had it with all of the comparisons between their grass roots movement and the Occupy Wall Street protesters.
Amy Kremer, chairwoman of the Tea Party Express, says the Wall Street demonstrators “don’t even know why they’re out there protesting on Wall Street.”
“I don’t think it’s the left’s answer to the tea party movement, and there are a lot of people there that don’t support Barack Obama,” Kremer told POLITICO. “I think they’re just unhappy people that don’t know really what they want.”
Kremer insisted that the protesters have “completely unrealistic” goals and lack a unified message, and that the absence of clear objectives make it difficult to take the demonstrators seriously.
“You know, it’s really kind of bizarre. These kids are out there and have on these T-shirts that say ‘F capitalism.’ It’s really ironic that they’re out there and communicating through their gadgets that were created through competition and free enterprise and capitalism,” she said.
But as thousands of protesters continue to rally on the streets of New York City’s financial district and in cities across the country, the media, pundits and politicians are asking with increasing frequency whether Occupy Wall Street may just be the left’s answer to the conservatives’ tea party.
“In New York City, the Occupy Wall Street movement is standing up for the victims of Wall Street,” former White House environmental adviser Van Jones told POLITICO this week. “I do think that progressives have a lot to learn from the tea party, and I think that I’m not mad at the tea party for being so loud — more frustrated that the rest of us have been so quiet.”
The New York Times suggested Thursday that “the mushrooming protests could be the start of a populist movement on the left that counterbalances the surge of the tea party on the right, and closes what some Democrats fear is an ‘enthusiasm gap’ between their party and Republicans in the 2012 election.”
Even Vice President Joe Biden ventured to draw the comparison, saying at the Washington Ideas Forum on Thursday, “There’s a lot in common with the tea party. The tea party started, why? TARP. They thought it was unfair.”
But Kremer insists that Occupy Wall Street is nothing like the tea party and suggests that the protesters in Manhattan might get more respect if they took their picket signs and chants to the nation’s capital and directed their anger at President Barack Obama.
“It sounds like it’s a lot of people that are out of work, that are angry. Now you have a lot of students that have graduated and can’t get jobs. But that’s not Wall Street’s fault, and we need to look at Washington, D.C., instead,” she said.
“The tea party movement … the thing is, we’ve matured,” Kremer added. “The movement has matured, and we have learned that having a rally, it’s great, it attracts people but it doesn’t affect change just because you’re out on the lawn or 20 days and 20 nights.”