In the Mother Country, the Magna Carta of 1215 ranks, falsely, as an icon of limitation of government powers. Yet that document only limited the power of the king, while greatly enhancing that of the barons. With the advent of the Hanoverian dynasty in 1714, the power of the British monarchy was definitively contained. But the power of Parliament became untrammeled. As Walter Bagehot famously said, Parliament can do anything except make a man a woman or a woman a man. Surely it can do those things too nowadays.
Another example is modern Italy, which arose only in 1870, when the individual states of the peninsula were melded into a unitary state. With that change came an all-powerful bureaucracy which has risen to impossible heights of arrogance and indolence, so that it is currently reducing the country to the status of a banana republic.
Since the Tea Party movement taps into this foundational strain of American sentiment for limiting the power of government, it is likely to remain with us in some form or other for a long time. To be sure, academic pedants and censorious pundits in the MSM like to point out the historical errors made by Tea Party adherents. So what? With the rise of the blogosphere, the mainstream media are on the way out. Newspapers are downsizing and closing down, and viewers are deserting the TV network news services. Good riddance to all of them.
Of course, there is the allegation that the Tea Party is mainly a group of white people. We are, I think, past the period in which mere allegations of political incorrectness could make their targets run for the hills. The whiteness of the Tea Partyites is something one has to get used to. A century ago, Max Weber pointed out that modern parliamentary democracies function as places where various interest groups can negotiate settlements among themselves without going to war with each other. Since blacks, Hispanics, Catholics and all sorts of other groups are represented at this colloquy, why not white people? Sometimes. bizarrely, we hear that Wall Street represents white people. Well, it certainly does not represent me.
As Tuesday's election results show, a fire is ablaze in the land, and it is certain to blaze brighter. Many corrupt politicos in DC and the state capitals will lose their jobs. That prospect is now clear.
I hasten to add that I am not a Tea Partyite, and the cure could well be worse than the disease. But something is happening and the permanent government in DC is powerless to stop it.
As a final note, we gay people have common cause with the Tea Party folks because our most important effort has been the dismantling of the sodomy laws, a forty-year campaign concluded only at the beginning of this millennium. Getting the government out of the bedroom should be part of any program of limited government. We seem to differ from them, though, in our advocacy of hate-crimes legislation and ENDA. It is not clear to me, however, that the latter two are truly a good thing.
Labels: Tea Party