There is nothing more American than commodifying a revolution. We the people love to buy our Che Guevara T-shirts at Urban Outfitters, after all. And so perhaps it's no surprise that both the tea party and Occupy Wall Street were very quickly co-opted by people looking to make a buck. The tea party got started in February 2009; by April, one Barry Coles (who also owns a company that calibrates police radar guns, among other businesses) had already applied for a trademark and begun selling gear at rallies. Similarly, within a month of OWS's inception, opportunistic souls had begun putting the Occupy Wall Street tagline on condoms — which might have prevented certain other things from multiplying, but spawned a whole slew of similarly branded merch.
Sure, there are some extremely meaningful ideological differences between the two movements — and maybe you want to take that into account — but aligning with one or the other is also about picking a lifestyle. It's about celebrity endorsement. It's about schwag. It's about figuring out which anti-sellout movement has sold out more successfully. Below, a brief guide to picking the brand — and we do mean brand — of populism that’s right for you.
|tea party||occupy wall street|
|Demographic||Mostly over 30||Average age reportedly 33|
|Books||Give Us Liberty: A Tea Party Manifesto (Foreword by Glenn Beck)||Occupying Wall Street: The Inside Story of an Action That Changed America|
|Soundtrack||American Idol alumna Krista Branch's "I Am America", as heard most famously in the Herman Cain campaign ad||Bongos, as heard most famously (and with great irritation) by Zuccotti Park's neighbors.|
|Clothes||Zazzle T-Shirt section||Daryl K, Daily Candy–recommended indie designers|
|Celebrity Endorsements||Jon Voight, Victoria Jackson, Ted Nugent, Donald Trump||Susan Sarandon, Noam Chomsky, Roseanne Barr, Jay-Z, Russell Simmons, Michael Moore, Lupe Fiasco, Cornel West, Yoko Ono, Deepak Chopra, Kanye West, Alec Baldwin, Tim Robbins, Penn Badgley, Mark Ruffalo, Danny Glover|
|App||"Tea Party Finder"; helps you locate nearby tea party groups||"I'm Getting Arrested"; sends a text to friends announcing you've just been arrested|
|Prophylactic||Membership in Tea Party||Condoms|
|Internet Fan Clubs||Conservatives4Palin||Hot Chicks of Occupy Wall Street|
|Headgear||Tri-corner hats||Guy Fawkes masks|
|Trademark(s) filed?||Yes, including for "Teaparty Patriot" and "Tea Party Patriots"||Yes, including for "We Are the 99 Percent", "Occupy Wall Street", and "Occupy"|