I spent last week-end at Freedomworks' Blog Con in Denver, Colorado. It was an extraordinary event, in part because Tabitha Hale, Sarah Desprat, Kristina Ribali, Celia Bigelow, Matt Kibbe and the rest of the crew at Freedomworks did such a wonderful job and in part because we spent an inordinate amount of time interacting with Occupy Denver.
The protesters invaded our conference to cause trouble twice, we checked out their "little Obamaville," and a large group of us were on the scene at their home base when 300 amped-up police in riot gear started pushing the Occupiers back. During the protest, my buddy April Gregory and I were forced across the road by police in riot gear, had a gun pointed at us by a cop, and listened to an Occupier screaming to the police that he hated them and was armed.
It was good times.
So, I've seen the Occupy Denver movement in action, I've talked to the protesters, and I've visited their hobo town. There's a lot you can learn from my experience without having to put up with the smell (and, yes, many of them REALLY do smell.)
1) They deliberately try to cause trouble, but play the victim: Just this week-end, the Occupy Movement went to our conservative conference twice with no other purpose than to disrupt it. The protesters refused a police order to leave a park. Individual Occupiers threatened police, intentionally walked into areas the police had declared off limits, and deliberately walked backwards into cops in full riot gear -- but when something happens, it's NEVER their fault. This is like standing in the middle of a busy freeway at rush hour and claiming you're an innocent victim being oppressed by the system when you're inevitably hit by a car.
2) They really are a leaderless movement: Like the Occupy Movement, the Tea Party is a leaderless movement. However, the Tea Partiers have a fairly coherent set of ideological goals. Talk to people at the same rally or at rallies across the country and they will give you similar explanations of why they're attending. Moreover, the Tea Party is only leaderless on a national level. On the local level, there are people who are at least nominally in charge of organizing the rallies and getting people where they need to go.