Bill Galston is an extremely bright man. I’ve met him and I was impressed. Though I generally disagree with his perspective I think he is a highly skilled political scientist. This op-ed in the Wall Street Journal offers an interesting take on the Tea Party from an establishment “Left” perspective.
Unfortunately (though predictably) Galston equates being for small government as being for a “white” America in the piece. This is rhetorically a key (and effective) part of the argument against the Tea Party. He makes sure the race factor is highlighted.
He also characterizes the Tea Party as a “conservative” movement, which it is in some ways but is not in others. When the status quo is an all intrusive government, the “liberal” position seems to be one of less government and freer markets. Indeed this is what “liberal” meant before FDR spun the term for his own ends in the 1930s.
Galston is right though in his analysis that the Tea Party is not composed chiefly of libertarians and has serious socially conservative tendencies. These tendencies which seem to have tempered since 2009 but are still there, are a point of concern for those who see gay marriage, reduction of the size of the military, ending the war on drugs, etc. as priorities.
Overall the piece is fair given Galston’s political disposition and his sightly different take on what is going on the Tea Party front is valuable to anyone seeking to understand the most important political movement since the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.
(From The Wall Street Journal)
Many tea-party supporters are small businessmen who see taxes and regulations as direct threats to their livelihood. Unlike establishment Republicans who see potential gains from government programs such as infrastructure funding, these tea partiers regard most government spending as a deadweight loss. Because many of them run low-wage businesses on narrow margins, they believe that they have no choice but to fight measures, such as ObamaCare, that reduce their flexibility and raise their costs—measures to which large corporations with deeper pockets can adjust.