The Tea Party, whatever its influence at present and no matter what its future may be, probably has less importance as a political agent than as a sign of the times, and perhaps even a bellwether. Something in America has changed since the election and inauguration of President Barack Obama, and the Tea Party is a symptom of that change.
The liberal conscience is tormented, the liberal mind undone, by two stark realities. The first is that the global village is really a vast global slum; the second is that the modern communications system that created the “village” informs us on a 24-hour basis of unpleasant situations and conditions in remote places that we are incapable of changing, and that we should be better off never having heard about in the first place.
Sam Francis has been dead these five years, almost to the day as I write, and so it is possible that his newspaper columns, essays, and books—perhaps even his name—are unknown to the latest generation of American conservatives, including those who have followed the rise of the Tea Party movement over the past year and witnessed the unprecedented descent of the late Edward Kennedy’s seat in the U.S. Senate to a hitherto unknown Republican state senator named Scott Brown.
Politics in the Western world has become a futuristic activity, so that it has got ahead of itself, chronologically speaking. Progressive politics has succeeded in progressing beyond history. This is why modern governments are so far out of step with their publics.