Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Watch Live

KPBS Midday Edition

Unlikely Bedfellows: Occupy San Diego And The Tea Party

A large crowd marches as part of 'Occupy San Diego' in downtown San Diego on Oct. 7, 2011.
Andy Trimlett
A large crowd marches as part of 'Occupy San Diego' in downtown San Diego on Oct. 7, 2011.
More Similar Than You'd Think: Occupy And The Tea Party
GuestRhonda Deniston Oceanside Regional Director of Stop Taxing Us, a tax-payer advocacy and tea party group.

CAVANAUGH: San Diego tea party and occupy San Diego. What do they have in common? And we Quinn a weeklong series on the challenges and hopes for San Diego kids with down syndrome. This is KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. It's Monday, October 17th. Our top story on Midday Edition, occupy San Diego has been marching again downtown this morning. This is the 11th day of the occupy movement here in San Diego. And on first glance occupy San Diego may not seem to have anything in common with the tea party movement. With the tea party's small government message and occasional tri-cornered hats. But there are areas where the two seem to overlap. My guest is Rhonda Deniston, Oceanside regional director of stop taxing us. She's here to give her take on occupy San Diego. And welcome to the show. DENISTON: Thank you for having me, and giving me this opportunity today. CAVANAUGH: Well, why did you go down to the occupy San Diego protest? DENISTON: Well, I wanted to know what their message was. At first glance on the news, the media isn't really giving them a fair assess. Because they're focusing on the dramatization, the wild card protestors out there are that are a bit of the anarchists, and there is an element of that, but some of it does resonate with the tea party as well CAVANAUGH: What were your impressions of the movement? You say, the idea that there were an,ists down there, and all of that, did you think that you would be warmly received? DENISTON: You know, I didn't really take that into consideration. I'm old anyways, and I have the ability to be able to talk to anybody and get my message across. I don't necessarily have to agree with someone, but I certainly can open the dialogue CAVANAUGH: What similarity similarities do you see between occupy San Diego and the tea party? DENISTON: The one major similarity is that they see that our government has become a system of corruption. And so the tea party like you said earlier, is about smaller government, less regulations, and the occupy Wall Street seems to have their issues withes big business. But as I really examined for a really long time, 'cause I sided about big business, then I looked at it from a different perspective, and living to people who actually worked for corporations, and I started to see that there was a major between government and wig corporations, and government is bought and paid for. So extending on who's in power, whether it be the Democrats, the Republicans, both parties have been taken hostage either by the unions or by big business, and it comes down to power of influence. So the more I examine it in order to have a free society, we really need to get rid of these career politicians. And I think that's time that maybe we can join together and demand term limits because we need to stop this career politician that continues the cycle of power and influence on both sides CAVANAUGH: There seems to be an area of similarity when it come it is to Wall Street bailouts, and the amount of money that favored corporations get from the government. Do you see that? DENISTON: We do see that. We definitely have the comparison when it comes to the Wall Street bailouts. The occupy Wall Street and the tea party are absolutely 100% opposed to the taxpayer dollars being used to bail out big corporations. And our government has allowed corporations to become so large that they cannot fail because then the system will collapse. CAVANAUGH: What about this 99 percent the 1% that is a hall mark of the occupy San Diego? I know the tea party tends to be very -- or rather right, a conservative organization, and also backing the whole idea of you make what you manner, you can make as much as you can, free enterprise, the whole thing, do you see that there's something out of balance though with the 1% owning so much of the welt of this nation? DENISTON: Well, yes. That's a three part question and the first part of the question is the tea party believes in a person's hard work that they should be able to keep as much of that as they can. Upon absolutely. We're not opposed to profit. But for the 99% -- let me give you an example of somebody I talked to over the weekend who worked for a large bookstore. She was a manager and had to set veteran expectations for the floor people. And the corporation, the big bosses would set these intangible -- for lack of a better word -- goals for them to obtain, and they were just basically unattainable. So they would work very hard to reach these unattainable goals, and at the end of the day, they would say, well, you're not going to get your bonus. But the corporate guys were getting their bonuses and stuff. So before I heard that stuff, it really enlightened me as to yes, it does resonate that 99% of the population absolutely does create the wealth for the 1%. Again, I'm not opposed to profit, but I think that companies that are more into profit sharing and giving a little bit back, we're not expecting them to give it all back, but they should be a little more generous than what they are. CAVANAUGH: Did you give any advice to the people that you spoke with in occupy San Diego that you learned from being in the tea party movement? DENISTON: Well, when I talked to them, and we talked about their vision, they see -- they're going about it differently. We kind of have some common goals. We definitely share the idea that government is corrupted by the wealth of corporations and the unions that are buying the government representatives. So we want to get to some goal. We're not sure where we're going to go from here. But we definitely see that. But the corruption within government is the big thing. The huge difference is that they have more of a sense of community. And that's just not something that the tea party can really get around. In the sense of community, we -- our community is through our churches and charities when people are -- we don't believe in a shareded welt. We believe that you should go out and work hard and earn it. And that we should take care of those who cannot take care of themselves? CAVANAUGH: What's new with the tea party in San Diego? DENISTON: We're kind of hang think low right now, waiting for the 2012 elections to come. We're focusing on issues, state issues right now, letting the field play a little bit, and we're tired, very tired, we've worked hard over the last four years, and we're taking this opportunity because we know it's the only time we're going to get a break. But I want to clarify, if it's okay, that the tea party is, yes, a conservative movement. But we, like the occupy movement, have -- the establishment Republicans, establishment leadership have tried very hard to coopt the tea party. And that has been successful in some areas. It has not been successful in San Diego. We share ideas with the local Republican party. But we're definitely free thinkers. And you would be very surprised at political demographics within their organization. We're probably below 50% independent and then an even split between Democrats and Republicans within the tea party movement in San Diego. You would be very surprised CAVANAUGH: Let me ask you one final question, the tea party from what I understand in its rallies and get-togethers did not necessarily get the kind of a turnout that occupy San Diego is. Is that pause you think there's a different sense of community in the way you just mentioned? DENISTON: Had, the difference is that the occupy movement seems to be a younger demographic. And it was just really hard for the working class to get out. Not that they weren't active online. There's a lot of online information going on, a lot of sharing of information, education. And I don't think the media actually gave us the legitimate numbers that came out that they did. I think sometimes the balance of that might have been skewed a lot bit. I think the numbers are bigger than what they reported CAVANAUGH: And you're going down there again? DENISTON: I'm going to go down there tomorrow. I talked to three young people this morning, and they shared a lot of commonalities with the tea party, and we agreed to disagree on other issue, but we're going to try to come to some formula that maybe we can work on 2 or 3 comparisons and see where we can go from there CAVANAUGH: Rhonda Deniston, Oceanside regional director of the tea party group called stop taxing US. DENISTON: It's stop taxing us, and you can go to CAVANAUGH: Stop taxing us. In the U.S. Thank you very much. DENISTON: Thank you very much for having me.

For more, watch Monday's show.

The Tea Party movement, with their small government message and tri-cornered hats might not seem a perfect partner to the younger, more progressive Occupy San Diego movement.

But there are areas where the two seem to overlap.