Neither movement wants to be identified with the other, but commonalities between Occupy Wall Street and the tea party – including being born out of anger and frustration – are hard to ignore.
"I think the target is different, but the frustration (among Wall Street protesters) is the same, and the frustration is a sense that these institutions are no longer working for average Americans," said Kate Zernike, a New York Times reporter and author of the book "Boiling Mad: Inside Tea Party America."
Some of the criticisms being levied against the Occupy Wall Street movement are the same as those made against the tea party in its infancy, according to Zernike.
"The portrayal of the Occupy Wall Street forces, fairly or not, has been people who don't really know what they are there protesting," Zernike said. "You can launch the same criticism about the tea party. Many people who showed up to tea party meetings or rallies didnāt really know what they were there protesting."
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The tea party is a political movement that became integral to the Republican takeover of the U.S. House of Representatives last year. The Occupy Wall Street campaignĀ began in July with the launch of a campaign website calling for a march and a sit-in at the New York Stock Exchange. Protesters have taken up residence in a Lower Manhattan park and have inspired similar protests nationwide.
Much like the Occupy Wall Street protesters, people who attended early tea party events were upset with the economy, and they felt that the system was no longer working for the average American. Zernike said it took a while for the tea party to coalesce around some specific ideas at the start, too.
āThey can say that they have different goals. But the spirit is very much the same,ā Zernike said.
People affiliated with the tea party vehemently deny any similarities between the two movements.
"The concern here is that they are targeting Wall Street executives, when in fact, really, they should be targeting their message toward the government,ā said Deneen Borelli, a fellow with Project 21, a network of black conservatives.
Borelli, a frequent speaker at tea party events, pointed to hundreds of arrests at some early Occupy Wall Street protests and said there were no similar confrontations with authorities in the early days of the tea party.
"This is where I don't see the comparison of Occupy Wall Street to the tea party movement," Borelli said. But she did acknowledge that a sense of frustration with the system is prevalent across many spectra of society today.