At a time when Americans seem more divided than at any point since the Civil War, two grassroots protest movements, the Tea Parties and Occupy Wall Street protests, signal the possibility of a major realignment in American politics along the lines of massive shared opposition to the domineering financial sector and its corrupt counterparts in government.
Washington Bails Out Wall Street
Since the very beginning in February 2009, I have defended the Tea Party movement against its detractors in the media and government. Just weeks before they spread like wildfire across the nation, while working through my senior year of college, I sat in front of the television in the Fall of 2008, watching with bewilderment as Congress passed a “$700 billion” bill (which has turned out to be more like $3 trillion in addition to another $10 trillion+ privately loaned out by the Federal Reserve) to bail out Wall Street banks.
As a teenage conservative raised on right-wing talk radio, I had always opposed government welfare programs for the poor. Private charity to help those in need was, in my opinion, not only a good thing, but according to the religious values I professed an absolute moral imperative. But I didn’t believe charity should be legislated any more than any other private moral belief, just like many Democrats would oppose legislating private moral views about drug use, or Pat Robertson’s sexual mores.
But here I was in 2008 watching with horror as the government acted to redistribute hundreds of billions of dollars in wealth — not to people in need, not to the poor, the sick, the suffering, the hungry — but to already extravagantly wealthy Wall Street banks. If redistributing wealth to the poor by government decree, however well-intentioned, seemed misguided, inappropriate, and offensive to my sensibilities about the proper role of government, seeing wealth forcibly taken from middle class and working poor Americans and handed to big corporations was positively egregious decadence and corruption of the highest order!
At least the welfare statists who believe in a publicly-funded “safety net” for the poor have the good intentions of helping people in need. What can be said about the intentions of someone who takes hard-earned money from a struggling middle class household and hands it to the CEO of AIG (which turned around and handed out multimillion dollar bonuses to its top executives)? And I wasn’t the only American outraged by what Congress did.
Outraged Americans in both major political parties were melting the switchboards in DC ahead of each bailout vote, expressing their firm opposition to making Middle America pay for Wall Street’s mistakes. Already long disenchanted with the Bush Administration, many pundits in the conservative blogosphere and talk radio were blasting the bailouts as corporate welfare that Congress had no business passing.
Read the rest of my story and commentary at The Silver Underground.Published in