Politics

Barney Frank: Tea Party Had Greater Impact Than Occupy Wall Street

Longtime liberal member of the House critical of Occupy's methods

Former Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank, right, supports Hillary Clinton's presidential candidacy and hopes Republicans can regroup after the election. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The tea party and the populist right have outmaneuvered the left, according to Barney Frank, the former congressman from Massachusetts. 

To his "regret," the tea party movement had a greater impact on American politics than the Occupy Wall Street protests, Frank told David Axelrod on the Democratic strategist's podcast "The Axe Files," produced by CNN and the University of Chicago Institute of Politics

"Occupy Wall Street decided that they would bring about great change by smoking pot and having drum circles, and it turns out voting in primaries is a better way to do it," Frank said. 

The best way to bring about change is to prevent one's ideals from overwhelming one's sense of moral public duty, he added. 

Frank served in Congress for more 30 years and was involved in the passage of major legislation including the bipartisan federal bailout of the financial industry in 2008 and the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul and consumer protections legislation in 2010.  

He told Axelrod, a former campaign and White House adviser to President Barack Obama and now a CNN political analyst, that he hopes that a Clinton presidency will lessen the partisan gridlock. 

"If Hillary Clinton wins, one of the benefits, I hope, will be that the Republicans will take their party back," Frank said. "You don't need huge changes. You just need conservatives who believe in governance arguing with liberals who believe in governance."

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