The fact that a rather sedate British publication can grasp the Tea Party's ideals that escape the American mainstream media confirms what we have been saying for five years. The American media is willfully ignorant, corrupt, and biased. The subject of the post is not, however, about the American Tea Party but rather European political parties that are, in some cases, doing a pretty good job of imitating the Tea Party. The Tea Party has gone international!
The Economist identifies three principles that unite the newer European parties with the American Tea Party movement.
SINCE 2010 or so, the Tea Party, a Republican insurgency, has turned American politics upside down. It comes in many blends, but most of its members share three convictions: that the ruling elite has lost touch with the founding ideals of America, that the federal government is a bloated, self-serving Leviathan, and that illegal immigration is a threat to social order. The Tea Party movement is central to the conflict that has riven American politics and the difficulty of reforming budgets and immigration laws.The European movement faces an array of problems. The Tea Party attached itself to one of the two major parties but in Europe with multi-party governments the populists have sought entry into the system through right wing fringe parties. To further complicate a cohesive response the movement is spread throughout the nations that comprise the European Union. There are some factions that want to scrap the EU while other want to control it.
But there are common threads linking the European insurgents and the Tea Party. They are angry people, harking back to simpler times. They worry about immigration. They spring from the squeezed middle—people who feel that the elite at the top and the scroungers at the bottom are prospering at the expense of ordinary working people. And they believe the centre of power—Washington or Brussels—is bulging with bureaucrats hatching schemes to run people’s lives.Extravagant White House galas, 21 presidential vacations costing well over $2.5 million, million dollar federal agency "training seminars", congressional efforts to debase the State of the Union speech into a celebrity showcase, White House correspondents dinners that exude opulence even in the worst of times, incompetent and corrupt federal contractors that are paid hundreds of millions to perform slipshod work, the influence of former congressional aides turned K Street lobbyist on public policy, and the contempt for budgetary constraint have caused the squeezed middle in this country to rebel. When coupled with executive agency job killing mandates, ostentatious public assistance in the forms of free food, homes, and cell phones and the subordination of the rights of citizens to those of non citizens, Washington has jaundiced the perception of government on this side of the Atlantic.
In Europe added to the burdensome presence of national elites with their frequent contempt for national values is an overweening bureaucracy in Brussels that claims expertise in all things human, from the price of olives to the tenants of Islam and the peasants' need to understand and befriend the latter which adds further to the contempt Europe's squeezed middle feels toward government in general. While Americans on the right fear becoming a European style economy, the European populists see the deficiencies of their own failed economy and near totalitarian intrusion into their personal live. They have to live in a European style economy and they have had enough.
As in American the European populist movement has been resisted by the powers elite. They have been slandered as extremists, racists, and fascists. They have been forced to co-op fringe parties with questionable histories and reform them into respectability but they have enjoyed much success.
In May voters across the 28-member European Union will elect 751 deputies to the European Parliament. Polls suggest that the FN could win a plurality of the votes in France. The United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) has similarly high hopes, as does the Freedom Party (PVV) in the Netherlands. Anti-EU populists of the left and right could take between 16% and 25% of the parliament’s seats, up from 12% today. Many of those votes will go to established parties of the Eurosceptic left. But those of the right and far right might take about 9%. And it is they, not the parties of the left, who are scaring the mainstream. (Euroscepticism is the body of criticism of the European Union, and opposition to the process of political European integration, existing throughout the political spectrum.)The Economist predicts that the insurgent political parties will see the most success minority parties have enjoyed since the end of World War II. The times, they are a changing.