A new Pew study finds that people are, for lack of a better phrase, pissed of at the gubmint. Distrust, discontent and anger are due to what Pew calls a "perfect storm of conditions" including a bad economy, partisanship and discontent with Congress. It's an interesting read.
The public's hostility toward government seems likely to be an important election issue favoring the Republicans this fall. However, the Democrats can take some solace in the fact that neither party can be confident that they have the advantage among such a disillusioned electorate. Favorable ratings for both major parties, as well as for Congress, have reached record lows while opposition to congressional incumbents, already approaching an all-time high, continues to climb.
The Tea Party movement, which has a small but fervent anti-government constituency, could be a wild card in this election. On one hand, its sympathizers are highly energized and inclined to vote Republican this fall. On the other, many Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say the Tea Party represents their point of view better than does the GOP.
It's hard to know exactly what to make of the Tea Party movement with some politicos and commentators saying the group is unorganized and ineffectual and others, like David Brooks, who say ignore the teabaggers at your own peril. Andrew Sullivan is somewhere in between.
The abstract slogans against government, the childish reduction of necessary trade-offs as an apocalyptic battle between freedom and slavery, and the silly ranting at all things Washington: these are not a political movement. They are cultural vents, wrapped up with some ugly Dixie-like strands.