Kommentar

Tea Party-støttede kandidater fosser frem ved republikanernes nominasjoner og skremmer partiledelsen og sentrum. De frykter at protest er viktigere enn innhold. Mange mener at Christine O’Donnell, som overraskende vant nominasjonen til Senat-kandidat i Delaware, ikke er kvalifisert. Hun vil skremme vekk moderate velgere.

Det republikanske partiet frykter at sjansen til å fravriste demokratene flertallet i Senatet skal gå tapt. Det blåser en anti-establishment-vind over USA, men resultatet kan paradoksalt nok bli at demokratene beholder makten i Senatet.

Men hva er Tea Party-bevegelsen et uttrykk for? Korrespondenter som VGs Anders Giæver tegner et populistisk, høyreorientert, far-out, bilde. Men man skal ikke ha lest mange amerikanske kommentarer for å oppdage at Tea Party står for noe genuint amerikansk. At den europeiske eliten ikke vil forstå Tea Party-bevegelsen sier noe om at det er europeerne som har problemer.

David Brooks skriver klokt om fenomenet i New York Times. Han sier det står om USAs sjel: det amerikanske systemet forutsetter at borgerne og markedet har frihet. Men reguleringen fra føderale myndigheter er blitt så stor at det minner om en «nanny state»: staten vet best, tar oppgavene, og forvandler borgerne til klienter. Da ødelegges USAs politiske kultur. Det er å ta vitaliteten ut av systemet, skriver Brooks.

Through most of its history, the narrative begins, the United States was a limited government nation, with restrained central power and an independent citizenry. But over the years, forces have arisen that seek to change America’s essential nature. These forces would replace America’s traditional free enterprise system with a European-style cradle-to-grave social democracy.

These statist forces are more powerful than ever in the age of Obama. So it is the duty for those who believe in the traditional American system to stand up and defend the Constitution. There is no middle ground. Every small new government program puts us on the slippery slope toward a smothering nanny state.

As Paul Ryan and Arthur Brooks put it in The Wall Street Journal on Monday, “The road to serfdom in America does not involve a knock in the night or a jack-booted thug. It starts with smooth-talking politicians offering seemingly innocuous compromises, and an opportunistic leadership that chooses not to stand up for America’s enduring principles of freedom and entrepreneurship.”

Ryan and Brooks are two of the most important conservative thinkers today. Ryan is the leading Republican policy entrepreneur in the House. Brooks is president of the highly influential American Enterprise Institute and a much-cited author. My admiration for both is unbounded.

En slik hyllest av det frie initiativ blir ikke lenger forstått i dagens Norge. Statlig støtte og velferdsordninger er per definisjon av det gode. At godheten har andre konsekvenser er ikke tema for diskusjon.

Men Brooks ser også betenkelige trekk ved reaksjonen på statliggjøringen av samfunnet: Tea Party-bevegelsen risikerer å kaste barnet ut med badevannet. En pragmatisk sentralmakt har alltid vært del av det amerikanske systemet.

Yet the story Republicans are telling each other, which Ryan and Brooks have reinforced, is an oversimplified version of American history, with dangerous implications.

The fact is, the American story is not just the story of limited governments; it is the story of limited but energetic governments that used aggressive federal power to promote growth and social mobility. George Washington used industrial policy, trade policy and federal research dollars to build a manufacturing economy alongside the agricultural one. The Whig Party used federal dollars to promote a development project called the American System.

Abraham Lincoln supported state-sponsored banks to encourage development, lavish infrastructure projects, increased spending on public education. Franklin Roosevelt provided basic security so people were freer to move and dare. The Republican sponsors of welfare reform increased regulations and government spending — demanding work in exchange for dollars.
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Throughout American history, in other words, there have been leaders who regarded government like fire — a useful tool when used judiciously and a dangerous menace when it gets out of control. They didn’t build their political philosophy on whether government was big or not. Government is a means, not an end. They built their philosophy on making America virtuous, dynamic and great. They supported government action when it furthered those ends and opposed it when it didn’t.

If the current Republican Party regards every new bit of government action as a step on the road to serfdom, then the party will be taking this long, mainstream American tradition and exiling it from the G.O.P.

That will be a political tragedy. There are millions of voters who, while alarmed by the Democrats’ lavish spending, still look to government to play some positive role. They fled the G.O.P. after the government shutdown of 1995, and they would do so again.

For å løse gjeldsbyrden vil myndighetene måtte ilegge nye skatter og samtidig skjære ned på utgiftene. Til det trengs tverrpolitisk konsensus. Hvis republikanerne konsekvent sier nei til all skatteskjerping, vil de torpedere en slik konsensus.

Over the next decade there will have to be spending cuts and tax increases. If Republicans decide that even the smallest tax increases put us on the road to serfdom, then there will never be a deal, and the country will careen toward bankruptcy.

It would also be a policy tragedy. Republicans are right to oppose the current concentration of power in Washington. But once that is halted, America faces a series of problems that can’t be addressed simply by getting government out of the way.

De samme problemene står europeiske land overfor. Bare Norge er forskånet fra økonomiske tyngdelover. Men også det har sin pris. Ett av dem er at vi ikke forstår hva som foregår rundt oss.

Brooks er opptatt av å bevare en konservativ intellektuell tradisjon.

Most important, it would be an intellectual tragedy. Conservatism is supposed to be nonideological and context-driven. If all government action is automatically dismissed as quasi socialist, then there is no need to think. A pall of dogmatism will settle over the right.

Dette er åpenbart en aktuell fare i Europa også: sinnet over den politiske korrektheten kan bli så stor at det utløser en dogmatisme og fanatisme den andre veien.

En sann konservatisme er ikke-ideologisk og pragmatisk.

Derfor er Tea Party-bevegelsens fremgang både et sunnhetstegn og et sykdomstegn.

Tea Party deals near fatal blow to Republican Senate chances
The Tea Party has dealt a potentially fatal blow to the Republicans hopes of recapturing the Senate in the midterm elections, senior Republicans have warned.

The Day After Tomorrow