That fact is that what defines the tea partyers is not, as they claim, adherence to self-defined and bizarre constitutional principles, or a groundswell of anger at intrusive government. Rather, it is an appeal to the basic and ridiculous American fear of government. So, though they purport to be a bold new populist force in the American polity, the tea partyers are actually a manifestation of a timid old force. And that's a problem. Why?
- Because change is only a slogan for them,
- because Americans don't have the political will to encourage their government to act boldly when necessary, and
- because we shrink from addressing the things that assail us.
And so it is that we aren't likely to get the car out of the ditch anytime soon, Obama's pronouncements notwithstanding.
And yet, while Americans cling to their self-image of intrepidness here in the land of the free and the home of the brave, we keep demonstrating in the privacy of the voting booths that we are anything but. We just don't seem to have the nerve to act, politically, on our innermost beliefs.
Instead of bold adventurers, confronting our demons, we are a nation of the frightened, hoping to somehow turn back the clock as we rail against the only tool that can really help us: political action.
The price we are paying for our cowardice
In the wreckage of lost jobs, there is lost power in the international marketplace.
Alone among the world's economic powers, the United States is suffering through a deep jobs slump -- that can't be explained by the rest of the economy's performance.
The gross domestic product here -- the total value of all goods and services -- has recovered from the recession better than in Britain, Germany, Japan or Russia. Yet it's a greatly shrunken group of American workers, working harder and more efficiently than ever, that is producing these goods and services. Which means that our unemployment rate is higher than in Britain or Russia and much higher than in Germany or Japan, according to a study of worldwide job markets that the Gallup organization recently released. The American jobless rate is also now higher even than China's, Gallup found. The only European countries with worse unemployment than the United States tend to be those still mired in crisis, like Greece, Ireland and Spain.