This is What Democracy Feels Like: Tea Parties, Occupations and the Crisis of State Legitimacy

Bauer, A. J.

"In January of 2012, NBC Politics hosted an online debate between three members of the Tea Party movement and three members of the Occupy movement. Moderated by MSNBC daytime anchor Richard Lui, the forum was putatively designed to expand mainstream political discourse, as seen in Lui’s introduction: 'The Tea Party and Occupy movements have each generated considerable attention and helped shape the conversation heading into the 2012 presidential election. But seldom have the two sides engaged in dialogue.' Unfortunately, rather than encouraging real dialogue between the representatives of the two movements, the 'debate' served merely as a sort of group interview, and, but for a handful of colorful outbursts by a woman draped in an American flag, the questions rarely encouraged the two movements to engage directly. Rather, from the outset, the forum was premised on an all-too-common mediated conception of politics, one that privileges pre-framed policy advocacy and the electoral ‘horse race.’ As moderator, Lui’s questions served to fold the claims of both movements back within the political boundaries of the two-party, representative system. This debate frame, unacknowledged except in the visible frustration of the Occupy representatives, had the effect of forcing the Occupiers to make their debate legible within the bounds of Constitutional political processes." This article picks up on the possibility of engagement between members of the Tea Party and the Occupy Wall Street movements.


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Periscope: Is This What Democracy Looks Like?

More About This Work

Academic Units
Center for Digital Research and Scholarship
The Social Text Collective
Published Here
October 8, 2013