Right-leaning populists regard the nexus of big finance and big government as irredeemably corrupt; left-leaning populists agree! Alone, neither group can muster a sizable enough coalition to challenge the status quo. How convenient for the establishment that they're so easily pitted against one another.
Don't misunderstand. Mutual wariness between the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street makes sense. These are people whose visions for the future of the country are very different -- on certain issues of import, and in races between certain candidates, they ought to be battling one another. But winners in American politics recognize that antagonists can opportunistically ally in ways that advance discrete positions they share. Wall Street executives certainly know this. So do the Democrats and Republicans who benefit yearly from their generous campaign contributions. Neither Obama nor the executives at Goldman Sachs are foolish or myopic enough to pass up opportunities for mutually beneficial cooperation. It's tea partiers and Occupy Wall Street types who conceive of American politics as zero sum game to be won via a definitive triumph over the other side. It never even occurs to them to get together for a chat about common objectives.
Ponder this passage from The Guardian:
Brendan Steinhauser of Freedomworks, a Washington-based group that runs a nationwide network of Tea Party off-shoots, says that "the tea parties arose out of opposition to the Wall Street bail-outs in 2008 - that was the event that gave birth to them, so yes it's funny that the Occupy Wall Street guys are also against phoney capitalism and we agree about that."
But that's where the affinity ends, he says. He observed the Occupy DC rally outside the Capitol and says what he saw there were "the same leftists, the same union organisers, the same Castro supporters you see on every leftist demonstration. It's same-old, same-old."
Isn't that interesting?
An organization opposed to the Wall Street bailouts learns that a bunch of people are so mad that they're taking to the streets, partly because of the bailouts. Does it see an opportunity to win converts, or at least to cooperate on a narrow reform? Nope. They're on the other team, so "same-old, same-old." Whereas if America elected an actual Castro-loving president who got inaugurated in a Tye-dye suit and Che Guevara T-shirt, does anyone doubt that the government relations folks at Bank of America and JP Morgan and Citi Bank would all be sitting around in their respective conference rooms earnestly brainstorming about how they could influence and co-opt and strategically cooperate with the new guy?
Here's the next paragraph in the Guardian piece:
David Webb has been watching the unfolding of the New York protests particularly closely. He organises a Manhattan-based group called Tea Party 365, and has been interested to see how the OWS shapes up by comparison. His conclusion is that the protests are rapidly being hijacked by interested parties. "The transport unions are getting behind it, rabble rousing and agitating, moveon.org is imposing its progressive agenda on it."
Webb acknowledges that Occupy Wall Street can be influenced by groups that approach it in a spirit of cooperation; but although he regards it as so susceptible to influence that it might be "hijacked," he never conceives of the possibility that the Tea Party might even marginally influence its behavior.