More importantly, the establishment centrists have clearly failed the country. The public has never had less faith in social or government institutions than it does today. Every other month seems to produce some new moral or institutional crisis demonstrating the failure of American elites to police their own. Wages refuse to go up no matter what happens with the rest of the economy, and the middle class is shrinking and unstable. The only utterly indefensible position is that major changes aren’t necessary, and that due respect for the mores of the Washington elite should trump blunt talk and sharp moves away from the status quo.
The problem with the Tea Party is that the things it stands for are almost universally immoral, and its policy prescriptions are disastrous. The Tea Party isn’t an extremist group because of its tactics, but rather its legislative aims.
Threatening to shut down the government isn’t necessarily a terrible thing; threatening it in order to deny people healthcare is. Primarying a leader isn’t necessarily a bad thing; doing so because he didn’t do enough to break up families and deport people is. Breaking up longtime legislative deals can be a good thing from time to time, but not if it’s done to take away food assistance to the poor. And so on. The issue is one of policy, not of process. Even on process, though, the Tea Party manages to get its way, continually forcing policy decisions to move farther and farther to the right. The centrists who tut-tut the Tea Party’s tactics aren’t just wrong on the merits. They’re also getting outmaneuvered.