Since I'm obviously more sympathetic to the Tea Party movement than the Occupy movement, some will accuse me of partisan-hackerly-level gloating for bringing this up:
Six months after the Occupy movement first used protests and encampments to turn the nation’s attention to economic inequality, the movement needs to find new ways to gain attention or it will most likely fade to the edges of the political discourse, according to supporters and critics.
“They have fewer people, and it’s not a new story anymore that there were people protesting in the streets or sleeping in parks,” said Neera Tanden, the president of the Center for American Progress, a liberal organization that has strong ties to top Democrats and has encouraged the protests. “They need to think of new ways to garner attention and connect with people around the country.”
The piece is in The New York Times, and it must have pained them to run it, since that institution has seemed much more sympathetic to Occupy than to Tea Party.
Garnering attention has never been the problem -- it's that "connecting with people" part. Inchoate anger not attached to any specific remedial recommendation is not destined to last. Say what you will about the Tea Party types, they have focused on the one big thing they identify as the problem -- unchecked, unsustainable debt -- and concentrated on one remedy, getting people elected who pledge to do something about it. They're slipped a little below the radar of late, but they're still out there organizing and endorsing.
I do wonder if the zeitgeist has passed the Tea Party by, which would be a shame since taming out-of-control government has been my passion most of my adult life. For a brief moment there, the taxed-enough-already rallying cry seemed potent enough to be a lasting issue. But the longer the lousy economy has lasted, the more government growth has been overtaken as an issue by personal fear of the future. It's hard to simultaneously ask the government to scale back and to do more to help us.
A big test of the Tea Pary's continued relevance will be right here in Indiana. If Richard Mourdock wins his primary battle against incumbent Richard Lugar or even comes close, it will be a sign the less-government movement is still relevant.