We saw it on national television last night again, as plain as day in the Vice Presidential Debate: the difference in demeanor between the Tea Party movement and Occupy Wall Street.  Seated on the left (appropriately) was Vice President Joe Biden, for Occupy.  On the right (no less appropriately) was Paul Ryan, standing in for the Tea Party.

One of the things on the surface that has always been a huge difference between the Tea Party movement and Occupy is their relative adherence (or lack thereof) to societal norms of common decency and respect.  For example, Tea Party events are notable for the cleanliness of the physical premises post-event, while Occupy events are infamous for the destruction of property and garbage left behind.  Tea Partiers are not known for disrupting traffic, defecating on police cars, abusing law enforcement personnel or committing crimes.  Alternatively, Occupiers have become infamous for all of those things.

While Occupy and the Tea Party share a common dislike for cronyism, their methodology and their ideology diverge from there.  To steal the meme of the Occupiers, 99% of Americans actually behave like tea partiers; respectful, polite and law abiding, with an openly expressed love for their country.  Among the many reasons that the Occupy movement lost its mojo was that the images of destruction, disrespect and disorder that Americans saw on television turned them off to the message.  99% of Americans don’t behave like that, and don’t condone that sort of behavior.  Occupy came to represent the irresponsible one percent who do, and who seem to think it’s all in good fun.  After last night, it’s not hard to picture Biden, with his cartoonish Joker grin, posing as the mascot for Occupy Wall Street.

Last night, Joe Biden was the onstage equivalent of an Occupy Protest.  “Belligerent,” “rude,” “condescending,” “bizarre” and “inappropriate” are only of few of the negative terms beings used to describe Biden’s performance.  And like the contrast between an Occupy Protest and a Tea Party event, sitting calmly next to the psychotically giggling Vice President, Paul Ryan was professional, polite and respectful to both his opponent and the moderator.

Biden’s antics were entirely inappropriate to the norms of decorum and respect shown in Presidential or Vice Presidential debates.  Recall when simple slights like Al Gore’s sighs could turn viewers against him.  Or when people were outraged at Bush’s supposed “boredom” when he was caught repeatedly looking at his watch.  Last night we reached a new low in the conduct of national level political debates.

On content, neither candidate scored a knockout, but both held his own.  But the American people judge on style as well.  And style often reveals character, which is a good thing to judge when choosing a Vice President.  Biden operated in the destructive, disrespectful style of the Occupy Movement that has been resoundingly rejected by the American people.  Ryan chose the style of the Tea Party; polite and respectful.  99% of Americans behave in this way, and Paul Ryan was speaking to them.  Who the heck was Joe Biden speaking to?

About The Author

Mark was a co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, and served as the national coordinator. He left the organization to work more broadly on expanding the self-governance movement beyond the partisan divide. Mark appears regularly on television in outlets as diverse as MSNBC, ABC, NBC, Fox News, CNN, Bloomberg, Fox Business and the BBC. He’s highly sought after for the tea party perspective from print and electronic media outlets, from the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, L.A. Times, Washington Examiner, Politico and the The Hill. Mark blogs at MarkMeckler.com, and his opinion editorials regularly run in many of the leading political newspapers both on and offline. Mark has a BA in English from San Diego State University and graduated with honors from University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law in 1988. He practiced real estate and business law for almost a decade. For the last eleven years of his legal career he specialized in Internet advertising law. When not fighting for the future of our nation, Mark is an avid horseman, and lives in rural northern California with his wife Patty and two children.

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  1. Nancy Garcia

    Thank you Mark. Vice-president Joe Biden is the poster-child for why Congress has become so dysfunctional. He shows no respect for any idea or opinion but his own and if he were in grammar school, he would be known as the class bully.

    Paul Ryan handled himself with poise and dignity and remembered his manners.

    You are right. Your comparison was perfect!

  2. Elaine Meckler

    Why does Mr. Biden think it is okay to smirk, sneer, interrupt, or point a finger at an opponent during a debate?

    Whatever happened to being polite, listening, not interrupting, being attentive, and showing respect for your opponent? Oh, that’s right; that’s what Paul Ryan did.

    This was a perfect example of what to do (Paul Ryan) and what not to do (Joe Biden) during a debate.

  3. Stan Harold

    What I saw was part of a circus: Biden as the clown and Ryan as the ringmaster. All the was missing were the donkey (jackass ) and the elephant. Oh, that’s right, Biden was there. The Dems want everybody to make nice except for them. Ryan was the only one on stage that has class. Too bad for the nation that Biden was such a boor.


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