"The Taxpayers' Alliance, an influential campaign group that calls for tax cuts and low government spending, is being advised by Freedom Works, a powerful Washington organisation credited with helping to destabilise the Obama administration through its mobilisation of 800,000 grassroots activists."
I couldn't resist.
So will Tea Partying catch on in Europe? I doubt it: Europeans are wedded to our welfare states, as we are often reminded, and tend to hang on to the simple equation "taxes go in, public services come out". And public services are still popular. In fact, I think that public services in Europe help add a lot to national and local identity - it is quite a surreal situation when the Tories, who seem to like the idea of privatising the Royal Mail, float the idea of the "Big Society", Cameron suggests that communities run their own post office.
I'll run that by you again. Cameron, who has talked about "Broken Britain", sees the post office as a creature of the community, but I doubt the Royal Mail will get much Conservative sympathy. Sometimes I wonder how people underestimate the value of public institutions in community and national identity. They are a show of solidarity between different parts of the country, mean that people have similar experiences and have a joint commitment to institutions that form a part of a community's past, present and future. Naturally it can be argued that the Royal Mail just isn't that relevant or central to life anymore, but when there are more faith schools, and free schools or academies, it's hard to see how integration or cohesion can work effectively. But enough of that aside.
Tea Party-ers ("Partiers" doesn't look quite right) will likely remain thin on the ground. The mood of austerity is in the air, and governments are cutting services to help pay off debt. Arguing for more cuts to services in this atmosphere just to cut taxes would signal that the state was in full retreat, and effectively abondoning people to the recession after asking taxpayers to pay for the mess the banks made. Saying that the government would be seen as "abondoning people" might seem a very strange thing to say, and is unlikely to make much sense to people who just want the government out of their lives. But I don't think it's too much of an exaggeration - even if it's a very crude generalisation - to say that European history has a long and rich theme of trying to integrate and cope with different sections of society, to become more inclusive. This has been true of the US, of course, with civil rights, and also with a lot of societies. But I think that government in Europe is seen as a way of including people in society, if used properly, and as a part of the community (even if the idea is badly battered).
After all, in an era of popular sovereignty, does it make sense to talk of the state as an alien force simply to be resisted?
Even the Tea Party Movement isn't myopic over the usefulness of the state; they want to use it like any other political movement - to achieve their ends. The only policy I'm aware of, is their support for ID cards for immigrants in Arizona. As Gulf Stream Blues convincingly argues, this is more government - in that, logically, more people will need to carry ID papers for it to work. The Tea Party Movement might not have a strict agenda, which might make it hard to combat, but I doubt that it will be truly popular on this side of the Atlantic. It may still end up being an influential part of the debate though, like the Taxpayers' Alliance who are a rent-a-quote for outrage on public taxation and spending.
So that's my two eurocents, and I hope that I'll never find myself writing about Tea Parties again. We've our own home-grown right-wingers to worry about.
Edit: I wrote Freedom House instead of Freedom Works, which was what the article was actually about; it's been changed now.