Opposing Big Government or Just Venting Steam?

The surface problem is well stated by James Bovard’s commentary:

Many “tea party” activists staunchly oppose big government, except when it is warring, wiretapping, or waterboarding. A movement that started out denouncing government power apparently has no beef with some of the worst abuses of modern times….

Many of the attendees seemed to hate liberals far more than they loved liberty. A CBS/New York Times poll conducted in April showed that two-thirds of tea party members have a favorable opinion of Sarah Palin, and 57 percent have a favorable opinion of George W. Bush. Denouncing big government while approving of President Bush is like denouncing immodesty while sunning oneself on a nude beach. After all, it was Bush who championed the prescription drug benefit for seniors that adds $7 trillion to Washington’s unfunded liabilities…

America needs real champions of freedom – not poorly informed Republican accomplices. Either tea partyers should become more principled or they should ditch their Gadsden flags and wear T-shirts of the lobbying group that organizes the rally they attend.

The deeper problem is the infection of conservative politics with the typical leftist-romantic tendency to substitute feeling for thought. If you’re mad about something, demand that Something Must Be Done — an attitude that is more likely to feed Big Government (because they are the obvious go-to people for Doing Something) than to shrink it.

The blame doesn’t lie so much with the rank-and-file protesters. They’re too busy making a living with what they have left after taxes to think their grievances all the way through to the root cases. The people I do blame are leaders who pander, smoothing over the contradiction between “I Don’t Like Big Government” and “There Outta Be A Law” and not summoning the backbone to tell anybody things they don’t want to hear.