Anne Applebaum writes:
In theory, there could be a third way. If the Republican Party were serious about the deficit its leaders could, just for example, eliminate subsidies for farmers and homeowners. They could raise the retirement age and “privatize” Social Security. They could simplify our hideously complex income tax. They could impose a carbon tax instead. They could even do some of this together with President Obama. In practice, I’m afraid that for the next two years, we’ll be watching the Millers and the Murkowskis struggle for the soul of the party. As Alaska goes, so goes the nation.
A part of me has been quietly applauding the tea parties’ growth in influence, as evidence by my favorable linking to article that fail to fall in step with the barrage of criticism the parties have faced. The tea parties’ stated policy goals–cut taxes, reduce the deficit, don’t cut any major spending programs–indeed are contradictory. But all political philosophies face internal trade-offs. As Republicans, and tea-party Republicans specifically–gain some measure of influence over policy, they’ll be forced to confront these trade-offs, and the results may prove promising.
If the tea-party movement leads to the re-emergence of a political party, or even a branch of a political party, that is actually fiscally conservative, I’d see that as a positive. If, in the short-run, the Republican resurgence slows the Obama administration’s ability to enact further legislation, I think that’s okay. And if increased political awareness and enthusiasm from conservative Americans leads to more thinking and talking about politics, that also sounds okay. Thus, as a contrarian moderate I tentatively admit: I’m not particularly phased by the tea parties or their members’ increased power, and on the whole see the movement as a net gain for America.