In my opinion, none of the psephologists mentioned above has reflected on the degree to which the administrative entitlements state – envisaged by Woodrow Wilson and the Progressives, instituted by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and expanded by their successors – has entered a crisis, and none of them is sensitive to the manner in which Barack Obama, in his audacity, has unmasked that state’s tyrannical propensities and its bankruptcy. In consequence, none of these psephologists has reflected adequately on the significance of the emergence of the Tea-Party Movement, on the meaning of Scott Brown’s election and the particular context within which he was elected, on the election of Chris Christie as Governor of New Jersey and of Bob McDonnell as Governor of Virginia, and on the political earthquake that took place in November, 2010. That earthquake, which gave the Republicans a strength at the state and local level that they have not enjoyed since 1928, is a harbinger of what we will see this November.
I certainly hope he’s correct. And I like that he notes that much of the Tea Party effort has gone from staging large national rallies to building effect voting efforts at the state and local level.
First, that is the easiest level to influence politics. Second, that level also has large immediate effect on the day to day lives of constituents. Small businesses may be burdened by federal regulations, but they’re absolutely smothered by the state and local regulatory regimes. Third, local activity builds a deep bench of future candidates for higher elected offices. The Tea Party efforts at the Senate level, and some Congressional races, were hampered not by the platform, but the lack of suitable candidates to challenge either the establishment GOP candidate in the primary, or the Democrat in general election. You don’t start playing football in the NFL, you start small.
I’m wondering also, if there’s a lesson here for the US in counterinsurgency operations. After toppling the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001, almost immediately the US sought to install a central government. But that government was hampered in that it utterly lacked moral authority and acceptance outside Kabul. How much more effective would the US effort have been had it immediately dispatched teams to build relationships and local government lower levels? True, the Army was far less well equipped or trained to do so a decade ago, and the other institutions of our foreign power even less so. But perhaps the attempt might have been made. And certainly, should the US find itself again in an occupation, it should make that attempt.