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Are The Tea Party & Occupy Wall Street Movements Opposite Sides Of The Same Coin?

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Tea Party supporters and an "Occupy Wall Street" demonstrator. (credit: Ben Sklar/Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Tea Party supporters and an “Occupy Wall Street” demonstrator. (credit: Ben Sklar/Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

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by Jesse Zanger, Deputy Managing Editor, CBSNewYork.com

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – It seems every which way you look these days, the one consistent theme in the political arena is dissatisfaction with the status quo. A CBS News poll released on Oct. 3 showed just 1 in 5 Americans thought the nation is on the right track. According to the poll, that was the lowest percentage of Americans who thought the nation was on the right track since President Barack Obama took office.

This dissatisfaction, it could be argued, began with the economic calamity that hit the financial system in September of 2008 and the Great Recession that followed, with millions being thrown out of work.

Photos: Occupy Wall Street | Day Of Rage

One of the first signs of popular upset with the exasperating economic condition was the rise of the Tea Party movement. While the Tea Party has emerged, effectively, as a branch or rebranded version of the Republican party (a recent CNN-Tea Party debate contained only Republican candidates), it began as a popular movement decrying the level of taxation, government waste and the exploding federal budget deficit.

According to the TeaPartyPatriots.org website, their goals are fiscal responsibility, constitutionally limited government, and free markets. “Such runaway deficit spending as we now see in Washington D.C. compels us to take action as the increasing national debt is a grave threat to our national sovereignty and the personal and economic liberty of future generations.”

“The American people will no longer stand for promises of the future,” says a statement on the site. “We demand real cuts and real action now!”

The Tea Party Express succinctly sums up dissatisfaction with the current economic climate with their six principles on its website, which are “No more bailouts, reduce the size and intrusiveness of government, stop raising our taxes, repeal Obamacare, cease out-of-control spending, bring back American prosperity.”

Those goals suggest that what is holding back American prosperity – what is preventing the economy from getting back on track – is government interference, taxation, bailouts, deficit spending and so forth.

New York, being a stalwart bastion for Democrats, may not have felt much of the impact of the Tea Party movement locally. But we haven’t been spared by what seems to be their emerging opposite number: The Occupy Wall Street movement.

According to the Occupy Wall Street website, the movement began because “We can longer afford to let corporate greed and corrupt politics set the policies of our nation.”

The Occupy Wall Street effort – now in its third week – seems to be gathering momentum instead of fizzling out. They are gaining celebrity support, and more significantly, support from unions and other large organizations. Protests sympathetic to the Occupy Wall Street movement have broken out in other cities.

“The participation of every person, and every organization, that has an interest in returning the U.S. back into the hands of its individual citizens is required,” was part of the call the magazine Adbusters put out that formed the Occupy Wall Street movement.

So on the one hand, you have a right-leaning organization positing that governmental interference and burgeoning debt has strangled the economy. On the other, a left-leaning organization that seems to suggest America has become a corporatocracy that is simply out to squeeze as much profit as possible out of the little guy.

Are they just opposite sides of the same coin? Are they both essentially motivated by the recent economic downturn? Tell us what you think in our comments section.

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