The tea party has given America new "founders," some from old Europe. Here's the reading list:
Frédéric Bastiat’s “The Law,” published in 1850, which proclaimed that taxing people to pay for schools or roads was government-sanctioned theft, and Friedrich Hayek’s “Road to Serfdom” (1944), which argued that a government that intervened in the economy would inevitably intervene in every aspect of its citizens’ lives.
The relative newcomer is “The 5000 Year Leap,” self-published in 1981 by an anti-communist crusader shunned by his fellow Mormons for his more controversial positions, including a hearty defense of the John Birch Society. It asserts that the Founding Fathers had not intended separation of church and state, and would have considered taxes to provide for the welfare of others “a sin.”
No Jefferson. No Jane Addams.
The Tea Party canon includes other works, some of them unlikely. Organizers have promoted “Rules for Radicals,” by Saul D. Alinsky, as a primer on community organizing tactics, and “The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations,” by Ori Brafman and Rod A. Beckstrom, an argument for the strength of movements built around ideas rather than leaders.
On the whole, it's about property and money. About getting rid of "protective tariffs, subsidies, progressive taxation, public schools, a minimum wage, and public assistance programs..."
What's at the center isn't anything that resembles the Christianity many claim. At the center is a set of beliefs that rejects "us" and warmly embraces "me" and whose moral warriors are in a perpetual state of road rage.
A little dose of reality would do us all good. No, it's not about how nice America "really" is or how capitalism and the defense of private property "really" works best. Quite the contrary. Bob Herbert writes:
One in five American kids was living in poverty in 2009. Across the country, once solidly middle-class families are lining up at food pantries and soup kitchens for groceries or a hot meal. In New York City, a startling indicator of the continuing economic stress is the rise in the number of homes that don’t have kitchens.
Election Day is approaching, but neither party cares to focus on the nightmare facing millions of Americans who have been laid low by unemployment, home foreclosures, personal bankruptcies, and jobs that offer only part-time work, lousy pay and absolutely no benefits.
We're stuck between two leading political parties, neither of which knows what it's doing but at least one which has some acquaintance with reality. Even so, America apparently intends to hand power to the party with only the flimsiest idea of how to proceed.
As John Boehner, one of the ring leaders, put it: “We are not going to be any different than what we’ve been.”