"While I don't share most of the substantive ends of many in that movement, and I strongly object to the extremism of some, I am a genuine admirer of the urge to reform that is at the heart of the grassroots part of this, perhaps the most important political movement in the current political context... while we don't share common ends, we do face a common enemy. Special-interest-government is anathema to both the true Right and the limping Left. Progress would be to work together to end it."
Traditional liberals will no doubt be driven batty by a prominent progressive activist like Lessig saying this, because they too often view Republicans as the 'Source of All That is Evil' with their own side being (mostly) blameless. But, big money and corporate interests dominate and corrupt politics in both parties, not just one.
That doesn't mean lefties and Tea Party members need to join together or even speak much to each other. But, they do have a commonality of interests. Martin Luther King and Malcolm X only met once and certainly had major disagreements, but they did work towards mostly the same goals. Conservatives like Rep. Ron Paul and Scott Ritter, the chief UN weapons inspector in Iraq, have been steadfast in their opposition to the Iraq War. Maybe if they'd been invited to speak at the big antiwar protests, the message and impact would have spread much further. But instead, the protests were cloistered, lefties talking to lefties. It could have been so much more. But, that can only happen when you reach across traditional political boundaries.
Karl Denninger, who launched a tea party to specifically oppose the financial bailouts, says:
"The Tea Party was initiated as a political protest against the unlawful and in fact unconstitutional usurpation of power from the Congress and The People in the form of extortion-led bailouts of enterprises that had engaged in acts that I, and many others, believe were at least civilly actionable and in many cases crossed the line into criminal activity... The Tea Party was and is about the corruption of American Politics and the blatant and outrageous theft from all Americans that has resulted."
Works for me, how about you? Lessig is correct. The Tea Party is an important political movement. So rather than singling out their extremist fringe, then portraying it as being the norm (just like the Right did during anti-Iraq war protests), the Left should seriously embrace their anti-corruption stance.
"The limping Left", indeed. Liberals seem in thrall to Obama, waiting for him to do the right thing. So they don't substantially criticize the Obama Administration or get in the faces of Democratic politicians who support Wall Street in the way that the Tea Party does with Republicans. And they need to. Because right now the Democratic Party is seen as the defender of the status quo while the Republican Party is viewed as the reformist. That's certainly quite a switch.
As for the hard Left, well, just look at the Pacifica Foundation. They own five radio stations in major metro areas and were founded to be an independent voice of the Left. But the network is now disintegrating into Loony Land and quite possibly insolvency, at a time when such a voice is sorely needed. The Marxist Left, now that they finally have a real life capitalist crisis to organize on, has mostly disappeared from public view. Go figure.
The Left and the Right do indeed face a common enemy, which is the corruption of our political system. Let's focus on that. We need a clean, transparent, and honest political system. That must come first, because without it, we don't have a functioning democracy. Together, working in our own ways, we can reach far more people than we can separately.