Reason Writers Around Town: Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin on the Tea Party Tendency


Writing in a faraway time zone, Reason Editor in Chief Matt Welch and Reason.com/ReasonTV Editor Nick Gillespie argue that "the independent-bent thirst for limited government is more than just some marginalized shouting." Excerpt:

You're looking good just like a snake on the flag

Underlying this intense and growing alienation is a fact that no demonization of individual Tea Party protesters can sweep aside: Ever since then-President George W. Bush went on live national TV in September 2008 to declare that "under normal circumstances" he was "a strong believer in free enterprise," the economic policies favored by Official Washington have been tremendously unpopular. […]

To the consternation of many interpreters, the Tea Party is not behaving like a top-down political organization at all, but rather a series of loosely connected local groups ready to fall in — or fall out — at a moment's notice. This weekend's pricey proceedings in Nashville were condemned by many Tea Party loyalists long before Sarah Palin gave her odd and hugely publicized speech.

But it would be a mistake to confuse organizational incoherence — not to mention a hysterical, off-putting tendency to portray the president as some kind of totalitarian jackal — with political impotence. Not only are Tea Party activists materially affecting things as big as Scott Brown's election and as little as a Virginia state vote to outlaw health insurance mandates, but their broad and relentless critique of runaway government is, if anything, more popular than the movement itself.

Read the whole thing here.