Handing out pink slips: The power of spontaneous order

From the Diaries

In Sunday’s Washington Post the Tea Party movement is described as ” a disparate band of vaguely connected gatherings that do surprisingly little to engage in the political process,” with the implication that the structure is an inherent flaw in the movement. What this comes down to is disparity in the world view.


The entire liberal model, whether in economics or politics, is based on central planning and top down organizational structure. Party leaders, bureaucrats and government officials dictate and proclaim from on high what the agenda should be, and how it is to be executed. Our model is based on what Hayek called the spontaneous order of the market. It is this decentralized confederacy which allows for free exchange of ideas. Ideas can be traded just like goods and services, with their value determined by the price mechanism. As ideas are traded in this world of disparate knowledge, the best ideas percolate to the top. This is how Tea Party activists created the grassroots pledge known as the Contract FROM America.

The “disparate band of vaguely connected gatherings” is in fact a quality that the Left has been foolish to overlook. There is immense strength in the division of power, and the fact that there is no such figurehead among this groundswell of freedom fighters has instead created a type of synergy among its thousands of leaders. People across all walks of life are becoming engaged in the process – they understand policy, and are inspired to participate in the conversation rather than sit on the sidelines. What this movement has done is expand involvement in the political process beyond showing up at the polls every two years. The doctors and small business owners and teachers in each town understand the direct impact of the legislation created in a distant Capitol much better than their representatives ever could – they are the ones living it. This new found interest in things like health care and environmental policy is groundbreaking, and has awakened a permanently informed army of Americans who cannot now go home and shut their eyes.


Regardless of ideology, the assertion that the Tea Party movement will have little impact in the midterm elections next week takes a certain level of cognitive dissonance. Despite the dismissive tone of the recent piece in The Washington Post, Dan Balz of the same publication recently wrote that “any way you cut it, the Republicans still have the advantage in enthusiasm this fall, thanks in large measure to the tea party movement.” The paper has also extensively covered the campaign work of Tea Party activists on the ground. In one week, the question of whether a movement based on principle rather than politics can win elections will be answered with a resounding “Yes”. Just as the Tea Party movement did to Republicans in the primaries, the establishment is going to be retired on November 2.


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