Sunday, January 31, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

Reynolds also notes the Washington Examiner column on the Tea Party movement cited in my previous post:

In fact, Tea Partiers seem quite clear on what they’re for: A limited government, one that keeps its nose out of their business and focuses on things like protecting the country in preference to redistributing income.

As blogger Freeman Hunt wrote recently:"You want a big tent? It’s fiscal conservatism. The people are overwhelmingly in favor of it.You offer that, you follow through on it, and you get the Republicans, the moderates, and a sizable chunk of disaffected Democrats."

Only to the likes of MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann is support for limited government a species of nihilism. But Tea Partiers are, in fact, working on a platform, which they’ve called the Contract From America . Though the name may remind some of Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America, this is something very different.

It’s a set of ideas developed via an interactive Web site, where voting determines which elements are most important. And it’s not a top-down contract consisting of promises made by leaders to the voters — it’s more in the nature of a contract of employment from the voters, which politicians may choose to accept, or look for alternative employment.

This is basically a crowd-sourced party platform, with the smoke-filled rooms and convention logrolling taken out of the picture. More dis-intermediation. I’m guessing that the political class won’t like it much, either.

Now, I know from Reynold’s work (such as his book Army of Davids) that he has certain theories and preferences regarding the work and wisdom of crowds.  However, it is one thing for a group to generically agree on “a crowd-sourced party platform” especially one that is focused on what end up being (as a matter of practical politics and history) platitudes (specifically “limited government” and “fiscal conservatism”).  Most people are, to one degree or another (as Reynolds notes), in favor of those things (certainly I would consider myself to be a proponent of both limited government and fiscal conservatism).  However, the devil in these issues is very much in the details.  And, the working out of such details in the context of a political movement, manifests in things like the “logrolling” that Reynolds seems to hold in contempt in the above paragraphs.

Indeed, as I noted the other day, the actual practice of governing in the U.S. is such that the institutional parameters make spending more likely, not less—even if it seems that “people are overwhelmingly in favor of” a specific outcome.  It is rarely that  easy(indeed, it is never that easy).

One thing is for certain in life, and certainly in politics:  frustration is easy, governing is hard.1

  1. Indeed, as Ann Althouse points out: “It’s a lot easier to be appealing when you aren’t sitting in any positions of power. It’s all free speech and reaction to what other people are doing.” []
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3 Responses to “The Same Subject Continued”

  • el
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    1. Brett Says:

      The paradox of the tea party movement was noted by The Economist recently. They noted a sign at a recent rally that said “Keep the government’s hands off my Medicare.” I think that pretty much sums up the substance of the movement.

    2. PoliBlog: A Rough Draft of my Thoughts » Eye in the Sky Says:

      [...] story struck me specifically because of my posts on the Tea Party movement from yesterday (this one in particular) and specifically Glenn Reynolds’ discussion of “a crowd-sourced party [...]

    3. PoliBlog: A Rough Draft of my Thoughts » More on the Tea Party Movement Says:

      [...] organization will be necessary.  This a corollary to what I was getting at the other day when I wrote “frustration is easy, governing is [...]

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