Sunday, October 16, 2011

From The Other Side

As I've blogged about my following of various transparency movements (those being #OccupyWallStreet #Anonymous #Wikileaks) there is perhaps one interesting tidbit I've left out. My older brother is a significant figure in South Carolina's #Teaparty.

Considering that we're family, naturally we don't let politics and philosophy interfere with being family. Or maybe that's not such a natural thing. Our family is unique in some regards. Our mother was an active participant in the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960's, so growing up with such a person made sure that philosophical debate about social issues, morality, ethics, and political systems was a given. As such I suppose my brother and I are simply well schooled in our ability to come to loggerheads over an issue and set it aside to eat dinner together, tell jokes, and just be family.

Our differences philosophically are significant. He is a devout christian, and I'm an atheist. He's quite the right leaning conservative whereas I'm far more libertarian/left in my social philosophy. Given my knowledge of other families with such sociopolitical divides, perhaps it is a small miracle we get along so well.

One thing I had to "wake him up" about was just how large #OccupyWallStreet is getting. He's still somewhat convinced that the likes of George Soros and others on the left are funneling tons of money and resources into the movement (and thus in control of it), but I think I did at least convince him that on some level #Occupy is sort of picking up where the #TeaParty left off. Even he begrudgingly admits that much of the #Teaparty steam has been borg'd by the Republican Party (thanks in no small part to the Koch brothers and Newt Gingrich). He met personally with Newt Gingrich a couple of months ago, which more or less convinced him and his fellow senior group members that their group wanted nothing to do with him.

Being a senior and founding member of one of the earliest #TeaParty groups in the country, we've naturally had quite a few discussions over the last few years and I have to admit that many of the things he and his group were claiming about how our economy seems to function were and are indeed largely correct. He does tend to buy into conspiracy theory far more than I do, but I've already blogged about my feelings there. Such conspiracies may be true, but proving them to me seems to be a waste of time and effort better spent on simply dismantling the apparatus around the process itself.

At any rate, after our discussions yesterday I found it quite surprising that a significant, if not major mover and shaker in the #TeaParty and I can agree on so much. Perhaps it's not so amazing though. The apparatus that are broken in our political system are the very ones in the way of real debate, discussion, compromise, and resolution. In other words we both realize, knowing full well we reside at times in near polar opposite ends of the political spectrum, that we can't even get down to the messy details if we don't fix the system first.

  • We both agree that banks too big to fail, should be too big to exist.
  • We both agree that "financialization" is akin to Las Vegas gambling and should be illegal or tightly controlled.
  • We both agree that our government must get back to its Constitutional roots.
  • We both agree that money must be taken out of politics.
  • We both agree in principal that the Federal Reserve must be changed.

I would find it difficult to imagine a #TeaParty member or an #OccupyWallStreet occupier who would disagree with very little if any of the above as clear goals. The minutiae can be debated of course. We both differ on, for instance, precisely what we'd like to see happen to the Fed. And the Constitutional roots of our government? We disagree on the scope of what that means.

But look, here's a hardcore #TeaParty advocate and a rather staunch left leaning #OccupyWallStreet #WikiLeaks and #Anonymous follower who can AGREE ON SIGNIFICANT THINGS.

What this tells me is that once you get past the smoke and mirrors of the press and the plutocracy, we're largely on the same side on most every vital issue. This is the hidden progress in the social landscape of this country that shows perhaps America is waking up. I like that.