A specter is haunting America—the specter of the Tea Party. If you’ve read a newspaper, opened a magazine, or watched the news in the last few months or so, then you’ve likely heard already about how the Tea Party is the next great popular force in American politics. The Tea Party helped Massachusetts elect a Republican senator to replace Ted Kennedy; the Tea Party has helped thwart President Obama’s plan for health care reform; the Tea Party helped fan the rage at Obama’s counterterrorism policy that ultimately blocked Eric Holder’s plans to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in New York City. In short, the Tea Party has become the vessel for outrage and disillusionment with the government.
The fact that there is so much outrage and disillusionment, though, shouldn’t be surprising, given the current state of the economy and the look of the political landscape. Populism and indignity traditionally swell when the economy is bad and when people perceive broad change to be afoot. Well, America’s economic woes are no secret, and the current President is a black guy who got to office by promising sweeping change.
This formula has resulted in a situation in which seemingly every decision, action, or event garners some significant backlash or reaction. The populace is currently upset about virtually everything: a sagging economy, a cartoonishly ballooning deficit, two drawn-out wars, national security missteps, health care reform, the failure of health care reform, the bank bailouts, the auto bailouts, Bernie Madoff, and an apocalyptic amount of snow. Continue reading »