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Pro- and anti-Tea Partiers need to realize they are on the same side

In times of great domestic unease, it is simple to manipulate the emotions of the masses. All it takes is a charismatic leader who can represent him or herself as a “Person of the People.”

The Tea Party protesters have figureheads like these, who speak to their very real grievances from what looks like a sympathetic position. However, they’re being taken advantage of — and for no obvious purpose aside from distracting them from real issues.

A Tea Party demonstration is set to be held on campus Saturday, along with a counter which will protest the Tea Partiers themselves. Sadly, these two groups will be at each other’s throats. How aggressive, loud or even violent the demonstrations can get, nobody can predict — there’s a good chance it will be very peaceful (but almost no chance it will be constructive).

This is the most remarkable aspect of the Tea Party phenomenon. How strangely the battle lines have been drawn in a country when two groups, each with the same grievances caused by the same things, can stand in such diametric opposition to one another. Like the left, Tea Partiers have suffered through decreasing benefits, the elimination of overtime hours or even the job itself, unaffordable health coverage and a whole host of other issues all related to the overall decrease in the standard of living.

It’s not hard to understand why these people are upset. But they are blaming the wrong people. They’ve been encouraged to believe the problem is really government, and while government certainly isn’t doing much of anything to correct the problem, they are not the sole originators of the nation’s problems.

At the core of Tea Party belief is the notion that only the people can save us from the predicament we’re in. I actually agree with that sentiment. However, I differ sharply from the Tea Partiers in believing corporations and large businesses represent real people, merely because they are not the government.

Tyranny can come from anywhere. If the government institutes a nationwide curfew, complete with stormtroopers patrolling the streets to catch any violators, that is tyranny. If a corporation decides its workers are not actually people, but rather capital, which is to be procured the way capital always is — as cheaply and efficiently as possible — that represents a form of tyranny, too.

Moreover, government has rarely, if ever, actually operated in the opposite interests of the business class. It is the business class which funds most of these politicians, it is the business class who gets the most representation; it isn’t even controversial to accuse government and business of being in bed with one another, yet one way to describe the division between the modern Right and Left is to describe one as supporting business, the other as supporting government.

In reality, government and business are joined; it is merely a matter of keeping the people separated to preserve the power of the ruling elite.

In a recent interview, published in the April issue of Z Magazine, dissident Noam Chomsky expresses disappointment in the organizational capacity of the left. If the people organizing for Tea Parties would take a little more time to read publications like Z Magazine or listen to people like Noam Chomsky, they might see who is really pulling the strings of the mechanism eroding the middle class and making them destitute, sick and hungry.

Perhaps what is most important for the left to do is to stop ridiculing people in the Tea Party. It may be that they are under-informed, but their interests are the same as the interests of probably 90 percent of the population, the average people, those who corporate henchman like Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck claim to be looking out for.

Of course, civil discussion won’t be easy if nobody is willing to listen. One shocking video, posted to the Web not long ago, shows a man with Parkinson’s disease being ridiculed by Tea Party protesters. As far as I can tell, the man with Parkinson’s merely sat peacefully and took it. One man tells him he’s come to the wrong place if he’s looking for a handout, then apparently changes his mind and starts throwing dollar bills at him, mockingly saying “Here, we’ll pay for it.” Such behavior is absolutely inexcusable, but it wouldn’t be fair to take it as representative of the movement as a whole.

What’s important to keep in mind, both for Tea Partiers and anybody who thinks of them as dangerous, radical elements, is to realize that both sides, right and left, are pretty reliably safe for the ruling elite. When the two sides realize their interests actually converge, and their enemy is not one another, real change and real progress might start to ferment.

Respond to Kyle at [email protected]

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