Monday, November 01, 2010

In how many other countries would a powerful populist movement demand less of government, rather than endlessly and expensively more?

After the clobbering Lexington got for calling Tea Partiers infantile, The Economist's senior America commentator had to acknowledge last week that race is not a reason for Obama's troubles.

Now Lexington — although he cannot prevent himself from ending on a sour note (and with a sour paragraph, "reflexively", "This means having something serious to say", etc) and he still states that "what strikes him [Lexington] as especially unfortunate for him [Obama] was the timing of events" — has no choice but to admit that
IT IS not hard, if you really try, to find good things to say about America’s tea-partiers. They are not French, for a start. France’s new revolutionaries, those who have been raising Cain over Nicolas Sarkozy’s modest proposal to raise the age of retirement by two years, appear to believe that public money is printed in heaven and will rain down for ever like manna to pay for pensions, welfare, medical care and impenetrable avant-garde movies. America’s tea-partiers are the opposite: they exhale fiscal probity through every pore. In their waking hours, and in bed at night, they are wracked by anxiety. How is a profligate America to cut borrowing, balance the budget and ensure that its billowing deficit will not place an unbearable burden on future generations?

The tea-partiers do not just have less selfish motives than the pampered French. They also have better manners. Let the French block roads and set things on fire: among tea-partiers it is a point of pride that their large but orderly rallies leave barely a crumpled candy wrapper behind them. Though some wear tricorn hats, and the movement takes its name from the Boston Tea Party, tea-partiers are peaceful folk.

…Corporate money has indeed found its way into tea-party coffers, but if you attend a tea-party event you will generally find that it is indeed a self-organised gathering of citizens dismayed by what they see as the irresponsible behaviour of an out-of-control government. … Here and there—in Florida and Alaska, for example—tea-party pressure has split the conservative vote, but in the grand scheme that is a small price for Republicans to pay for the revivifying energy the movement has imparted to a party that looked dead in the water two years ago.

Not French, not fabricated and not as flaky as their detractors aver: these are the positives. Another one: in how many other countries would a powerful populist movement demand less of government, rather than endlessly and expensively more? Much of what is exceptional about America is its ideology of small government, free enterprise and self reliance. If that is what the tea-party movement is for, more power to its elbow.
Lexington goes on to say that
His critics say he should have spent this period concentrating on jobs. But many of those critics are the same people who will tell you that it is not in the gift of governments to create jobs.
Some liberals don't seem to be able to get it through their thick skulls that for the government to create jobs, in a conservatives' mind, means getting rid of laws, rules, regulations, along with bureaucrats, that stand in the way of private entrepreneurship creating jobs… The difference is busybodies' active intervention versus keeping out of the way (and ensuring the rest of the government does likewise)…