I Fear the Government (When the Other Party Runs Things)
Republicans greatly fear the government -- when Democrats are in power. And vice versa.
The graph above, courtesy of Gallup, is perhaps the best encapsulation for the rise of the Tea Party movement. While I admire my colleague Dodd Harris’s idealistic suggestion that the Tea Party represents an insurgence of principled libertarianism, the fact remains that polls such as this one demonstrate that Tea Partiers are overwhelmingly partisan Republicans. And when a Democrat is in office, partisan Republicans are more inclined to agitate, protest, and vote against the current state of affairs. Hence, Tea Parites. And when a Republican is in office, partisan Democrats are more inclined to agitate, protest, and vote against the current state of affairs. Hence, MoveOn, Code Pink, etc.
It really is that simple. To be sure, in the Tea Party you will find principled libertarians who rail against the state regardless of which party controls Washington. And in MoveOn, you will find principled progressives who rail against the state regardless of which party controls Washington. But they aren’t the majority in either case.