On his weekly radio show with John Gambling this morning, Mayor Michael Bloomberg equated two prominent movements that may not see eye-to-eye on a lot of issues: Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party. The comparison came about after Mr. Bloomberg lamented the difficulty of getting Congress to do the right thing on issues like reforming immigration laws to keep international students in the United States after they graduate. He suggested the Tea Party provides a model for pressuring politicians before pivoting to discuss activist irrationality.
“They care about getting elected and reelected, so you have to go and say, ‘If you don’t do something that’s good for this country, or good for this city or this state, we’re going to elect somebody else,'” Mr. Bloomberg explained of federal lawmakers. “And that’s a hard thing to do and it involves a lot of people.”
“You can see it working, in some senses, the Tea Party is exactly that,” he argued, surely referring to the conservative movement’s success in the 2010 elections. “The Tea Party I’ve always thought is very much like Occupy Wall Street.”
The mayor next explained what he feels to be the mindset of both groups.
“They say, ‘We don’t want it any more. We want to stop it,'” he said. “And you say, ‘Oh good. What do you want to stop?’ And they can’t answer it.”
(Of course, members belonging to either movement are unlikely to be especially fond of the billionaire mayor with a penchant for the policies of micromanagement.)
“Both are groups of people who think that we’re going in the wrong direction,” Mr. Bloomberg continued. “They may not have answers as to where to go, or their answers may be not-too-smart and not work and not be practical or whatever, but they are people who are not happy and they want to protest. Which is the American way, there’s nothing wrong with that. The trick is to not listen to people who have irrational ways to deal with the problems.”
Mr. Bloomberg used a recent example regarding foreign policy to conclude his point.
“None of these problems are simple,” he said. “I saw somebody said today, ‘Oh, we shouldn’t be giving foreign aid to Egypt.’ We’ve got to keep the whole world from blowing up here and American foreign aid does that. Do we buy peace? Yeah, some. Total peace? No. We don’t need the world blowing up and if anybody thinks we can survive if there’s chaos elsewhere just doesn’t understand. The oceans may be big, but they’re not that big.”