The Tea Party is not unique to America. It exists in Europe and elsewhere too. The only problem is, due to our nearly unique Presidential system, it can cause more problems and damage here than elsewhere:
It may be more useful to compare the tea-party movement to a different sort of party that tends to crop up in parliamentary systems: far-right populist parties based on backward-looking ideologies of national identity. In France, the Netherlands and Austria, such parties consistently win substantial portions of the vote. Like the tea-party movement, they tend to be fiercely protective of existing social-welfare programmes that benefit the elderly and the ethnic majority, and bitterly opposed to social-welfare programmes that benefit ethnic minorities or immigrants. [DD Note: i.e., they explicitly racist]
And like the tea-party movement, they can win by losing: their partisans may treat legislative defeats as a badge of honour, and in any case, when government is stymied, the economy weakens, and people get angry, populist parties that avoid responsibility and stay out of government draw more support. But in parliamentary systems, fringe populist parties are rarely included in governing coalitions, in large part because their tendency to value expressive identity-based politics over concrete legislative goals makes them extremely difficult for other parties to work with. The weakness of two-party systems such as America’s is that purists who treat politics as a type of self-affirming performance art have to be included in one party or the other, and indeed are likely to regard themselves as being that party’s true soul.
I think of the xenophobic extremism of the UK Independence Party, or UKIP, in Britain. There are right-wing factions among the Tories, but they tend to be contained within the elitist structure of the Commons and the power of the central party in selecting candidates for parliament. The BBC – however contentiously liberal – has also created a single national conversation that can help integrate extremists. None of this exists to the same degree here – and with a divided government, the unaccountable can indeed inflict the unimaginable. And they nearly did.
“The Bush administration opened with a second Pearl Harbor, ended with a second Great Crash and contained a second Vietnam in the middle.”
He goes on:
“Days of Fire” is not a dispassionate book. Its mood might rather be described as poignant: sympathetic to its subjects, generous to their accomplishments and extenuating none of their errors.
“Bush was not one given to reflection, at least not out loud. Yet one day,” in the summer of 2008, “he seemed in a rare introspective mood. Sitting in the Situation Room while waiting for another meeting to begin, the president looked at Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, who had succeeded Peter Pace as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and harked back to the critical days in 2003 before he launched the war that had become so problematic. ‘You know,’ he recalled, ‘when I made the decision on Iraq, I went around the room to everybody at that table, every principal. “You in? Any doubts?” Nothing from anybody.’ For Bush, it was a rare moment of doubt. Was he ruing his own flawed judgment? Bitter that he had been led off track by advisers? Or both?” [...]
George Bush faced an unusual number of moments of crisis. In December 2008, Morgan Freeman attended a reception at the White House. Bush “cited the actor’s many credits, including ‘Deep Impact,’ in which Freeman played a president confronted by a civilization-ending comet-strike against the earth. . . . ‘About the only thing that hasn’t happened in the last eight years,’ he ad-libbed. . . . When he took his seat again, Rice leaned over. ‘Don’t tempt fate,’ she said. ‘We’ve still got a few weeks left.’”
NATIONAL–REPUBLICAN DISASTER–CNN/ORC International: 54% say it’s a bad thing that the GOP controls the House, up 11 points from last December. Only 38% say it’s a good thing the GOP controls the House, a 13-point dive from the end of last year. 63% say that Speaker of the House John Boehner should be replaced.
NATIONAL–OBAMACARE–CNN/ORC International: 53% of Americans either support Obamacare, or say it is not liberal enough. Only 38% oppose the law because they think it is too liberal.
VIRGINIA–GOVERNOR–NBC4/NBC News/Marist: Terry McAuliffe (D) 46, Ken Cuccinelli (R) 38, Robert Sarvis (L) 9.
“The Republican Party brand appears to be badly damaged in the commonwealth – 62% said they had an unfavorable view of the party, while just 33% said they viewed the party favorably. Among independents, it was even worse. By a 71% to 23% margin, the GOP was viewed negatively.”
MARYLAND–GOVERNOR–DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY–Gonzales Research: Lt. Governor Anthony Brown (D) 41, Attorney General Doug Gansler 21, Heather Mizuer 5.
“Brown, who would be Maryland’s first African-American governor, has the support of 56% of black voters, compared to 12% for Gansler. Among white voters, Brown and Gansler are in a virtual dead heat, with Brown receiving 29% and Gansler getting 28%.”