So here’s where a Tea Party comes in. Could a Tea Party movement in Europe just make the debt crisis harder to resolve, by polarizing the political climate even more? Perhaps. But that may be just was Europe needs.
Now let me make clear that I am no fan of the Tea Party. Its economic agenda is radical, potentially destructive and morally bankrupt. (Tax breaks can’t solve everything, and yes, the poor do need help.) Its notion of “small government” is hypocritically selective. (Government intervention in healthcare is a dangerous intrusion, but government control of women’s reproductive rights isn’t.) Its willingness to sacrifice the economy to score political points in the debt-ceiling debacle was not just embarrassing, but irresponsible, and in part the cause of the controversial S&P downgrade of America’s credit rating. But if the Tea Party in the U.S. has done any good, it is force a shake-up in the political establishment. The Tea Party has charged into Washington saying that things have to change, really change, if the country is to move forward. That has led Washington to debate the real hard issues of the financial standing of the nation, in a way perhaps that would not have happened otherwise.
So maybe an angry, radical political movement can actually help Europe solve its debt crisis. What Mistral sees as a willingness to compromise is, in a way, exactly the problem. There is no significant movement towards radically altering the way Europe works. Reform has been limited to a great degree to austerity programs or imposing new rules, not structural change. Europe leaders talk of greater integration but are still wary of full fiscal union. Today’s political leaders are willing to tweak the system, but not tackle the bigger problems that hold back growth and stifle competitiveness.