"2011 will be the year of distrust in government"

But this year, Mr. Edelman said, we are losing faith in the state: “From the sovereign debt crisis in Europe, to the government’s response to the earthquake in Japan, from the high-speed rail crash in China, to the debt ceiling fight in Washington, people around the world are losing faith in their governments.”

Even the Arab Spring, Mr. Edelman mused, was an extreme expression of the same breakdown in the people’s support for those who rule them…

Whatever you may think of the political agenda of the Tea Party, or of its wealthy supporters and media facilitators, it is at heart an ardent grass-roots movement whose angry and engaged participants have chosen voice over exit or apathy.

But when you look at what they are using that voice to advocate, you may decide that Mr. Hirschman was right after all about the American national romance with exit. The Tea Party’s engaged citizens aren’t so much trying to reform government as to get rid of it — the only possible version of exit when the frontier is gone and you already live in the best country on earth.