E.J. Dionne is an observant and thoughtful guy. In this morning’s column he looks at the Tea Partiers and reminds us all of some history:
“Something else is going on in the Tea Party movement, and it has deep roots in our history. Anti-statism, a profound mistrust of power in Washington, dates all the way to the Anti-Federalists who opposed the Constitution because they saw it concentrating too much authority in the central government. At any given time, perhaps 20 to 25 percent of Americans can be counted on to denounce anything Washington does as a threat to “our traditional liberties.”
. . .
Understanding the principled anti-government radicalism that animates this movement explains why its partisans see the conservative Bush as a sellout and the cautiously liberal Obama as a socialist. For now, their fears of Obama are enough to tether the Tea Partiers to the GOP. In the long run, establishment Republicans are destined to disappoint them.”
This bit of history doesn’t mean we shouldn’t continue to seek ways to bring that 20% into reality. We should. And as long as they are anti-Washington, they are dissatisfied and angry and vulnerable to demagogues-to-come. Which, unlike dissent, is NOT good for a nation.