In the last few years, we have witnessed the rise of several protest groups and organizations that have made their voices heard in the public and in the media. On the left, there is the Occupy Movement, on the right, there is the Tea Party.
There is also a self-described "liberty movement," with strong libertarian convictions and influenced by the presidential candidacy and ideas of Ron Paul. Although both the Occupy Movement and the Tea Party highlight legitimate grievances, both groups have obvious inconsistencies and shortcomings. The more principled and focused liberty movement will undoubtedly have the biggest effect on public debate and long-term political trends.
The Tea (Taxed Enough Already) Party was officially started on November 5, 2007, when then presidential candidate Ron Paul held his first "money bomb," raising of over $4 million (which, at the time, was the most money ever raised by a political candidate in one day). The Tea Party began as a grassroots group of frustrated libertarians and paleo-conservatives, angry at the Republicans for their spending, deficits, and debts, the loss of civil liberties, and military interventionism overseas. As it grew, however, the movement soon began to be co-opted by mainstream Republican politicians and pundits, and combined with the election of President Obama, took a much more partisan turn.
While still clinging to the rhetoric of slamming "big government" and too much taxation, the Tea Party evolved into right-wing resistance against Obama and the Democrats. Libertarian populism was replaced with shouts of "Hands off my Medicare!", conspiracy theories about Obama's religion and national origin, and elected many of the same politicians that just a few years ago were the target of their protests.
The Occupy Movement as well began as a grassroots, decentralized movement against Wall Street corruption and big banks. Famous for popularizing the "99%" versus the "1%" narrative, the Occupiers saw an excess of capitalism, Wall Street corruption, and "deregulation" as the causes of U.S.'s economics woes, urging higher taxes on the rich and left-leaning economic policies. Although much less co-opted by the Democrats - President Obama has only given minor hints of solidarity with them - the Occupy Movement correctly recognized a problem, but an ignorance of economics prevented (and still prevents) them from throwing darts at the right target.
The liberty movement, on the other hand, is much different. Although more of an offshoot of the Tea Party, it blends many of the justified complaints of the Occupy crowd into a clearer comprehension of the causes of our economic mess and what to do about it. Boosted by Ron Paul's presidential run -- which in reality was an unbelievably successful libertarian speaking tour -- the liberty movement, formed mostly by people under the age of 35, synthesized the anger of the left and right thanks to an understanding of economics, history, and the nature of government power. To blame either big government or big banks is only half of the equation, and any proposed solution absent this synthesis will only empower the other (or both).
The liberty movement has stroked the root; as opposed to the Tea Party and Occupy, which have largely been trimming the branches. It is not just "big government" that is a threat to liberty, but all forms of initiated coercion. And there is a "1%" out there, alright; it's the predictable result of money-printing and fiat money, funnelling wealth upwards. It's not the rich, per se, only those that have acquired their wealth through the political process, like bailouts, subsidies, artificial monopolies, regulatory snag, fractional-reserve banking, and government contracts.
The liberty movement understands that this process is brought about by the Federal Reserve and the business cycle, the nature of states to always grow, the terrible costs of military empire, and that the Bill of Rights, a market economy, and a sound currency -- not soaking the rich or electing Republicans -- are the paths to prosperity and ending the corporatism that dominates America.
And fundamentally, as a principled opponent of state power, the liberty movement is an anti-war movement, knowing that war is the biggest enabler of the growth of government, infringes on speech and civil liberties, and destroys life, wealth, and private property both at home and abroad. It opposes Obama's warmongering just as much, if not more, than his corporate welfarism at home. Peace and the Bill of Rights first, the rest comes second.
This is why I believe the liberty movement will have the biggest influence in the future. It is undeniably growing by leaps and bounds, and will only continue to spread. And because it rejects partisan politics, the false left-right spectrum, and a synthesis of sound economics and civil liberties, its message will draw in those who might be turned off by either the Tea Party or the Occupiers.
Although I disagree with much of what the Tea party and the Occupy Movement stand for, I will always defend those who wish to protest against injustice, even if their solutions would likely enable the beasts they are attempting to slay. Republicans and Democrats, comfy in their thrones of power, obviously see all of these protest movements as threats to their back-and-forth rule. This is what scares me about the passing of the NDAA, the legislation banning protests near government buildings, and a DHS report that list "liberty lovers" as domestic threats. They are obviously scared of any resistance to their monopoly on power.
And while the Tea Party and the Occupy Movement both bring important issues to the forefront, they tend to be highly partisan and will likely ebb and flow depending on which party is in power. This is why the liberty movement, and their principled, philosophical consistency, will continue to grow, offer a real alternative, and create radical change in the direction of peace and human liberty.