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SteepThe Precipitous Rise of the Tea Party$
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Lawrence Rosenthal and Christine Trost

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780520274228

Published to University Press Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520274228.001.0001

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date: 24 November 2017

A Tale of Two Movements

A Tale of Two Movements

Chapter:
(p.275) Epilogue A Tale of Two Movements
Source:
Steep
Author(s):
Lawrence Rosenthal, Christine Trost
Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520274228.003.0012

This epilogue suggests that the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movements have something fundamental in common. They are both expressions of pain from differing points of view of the same social process—the dismantling of American middle-class life. In effect, the Tea Party movement is reacting to the feeling that prosperity is being taken away from them while the Occupy movement is reacting to the feeling that they will never have it. The great financial meltdown of 2008 brought a shocking and explosive ending to what had been a gradual process of decay. In its final stage before the financial collapse, the erosion of middle-class life was masked by easy credit, in particular, the ability of homeowners to borrow against what seemed like the continuous upward valuations of their property. In September 2008, this all came apart. Millions would find themselves underwater on their homes—owing more than the home's current value; grinding recession and large-scale, long-term unemployment was on the horizon. The financial crisis came toward the end of the working lives of most Tea Party supporters. Everything they had earned, suddenly, was insecure. They would enter into a furious mobilization against those they felt were trying to take it away. Whereas, for many in the OWS movement, the financial crisis came at the beginning of their working lives. Their prospects for housing, for adequate wages, for the mere opportunity to pay off their student loans—all this was bleak, and worse.

Keywords:   Tea Party movement, Occupy Wall Street, American politics, middle-class life, 2008 financial crisis

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