Question of the day

Very few commentators these days consciously long for the return of the USSR. But several cling, Marx-like, to a certain disdain for the electorate: an uneasy sense that, left to themselves, people might vote for lower taxes instead of the kind of eco-correct statism that is in their “real” interest. Lurking behind many of the attacks on the Tea Party is an equivocal attitude to democracy. For the Tea Party is a product of perhaps the most responsive electoral process on Earth: the open primary. In Britain and in Europe, closed candidate selection allows substantial currents of opinion to be excluded altogether from national assemblies. Allow more people a say over who should be their MP and you might have popular anti-tax campaigns springing up all over the place…

I have no special brief for the Tea Party. I’m sure that, like all big organisations, it contains its share of cranks. But most Americans regard the proposition that taxation, spending and borrowing have risen too quickly as essentially reasonable. That’s the thing: neither I nor George Monbiot gets to decide what “extreme” is any more. The Internet has broken the old cartels; pundits have lost their powers. We are finally approximating the ideal of government of, by and for the people – and, unsurprisingly, not everyone likes it.

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