One wonders where all of these anti-government people were when the last President Bush took us into an unnecessary, prolonged war and occupation at considerable cost in both human and capital treasure; massively expanded the size and cost of government; when he trampled on any number of constitutional rights, so much so that even the conservative Supreme Court could not uphold his decisions; and when he crafted a very expensive (and poorly designed) "government-run" drug program under Medicare. Where were all of the states rights people when the Supreme Court cynically appointed George W. Bush as president, in the first place, nullifying the decision of the Florida Supreme Court? Why were they not in the streets showing their outrage at such brazen abuses of power and spendthrift behavior? Clearly, because they were then, as they are now, partisans, pure and simple. In other words, they have no problem at all with Republican big government, overspending, and infringements on the Constitution. They are not opposed to big government at all, they are opposed to the other guy's government. And they deplore attempts to correct (with several notable successes, I might add) the large mess and legacy of malfeasance left behind by a Republican president and Congress.
With all this said, don't get me wrong: I think the core Democrats are only slightly less contemptible, and I am especially critical of President Obama for his failure to spend his political capital early-on in his administration for a more sensible health insurance reform program with a properly designed and funded government-payer option (such as Medicare). He still managed to get something better than what we had, to be sure, but it is insufficient and an opportunity was squandered through dithering for bipartisanship and placating special interests. While the Republicans have never been especially competent at managing the checkbook (contrary to conventional wisdom), they have always excelled at marketing (hence, the foregoing convention), and they clearly out-marketed the Democrats with their sales points on death panels, government takeover of health care, etc. I hope the president does better on financial reform, and there is some early evidence suggesting that he will.
I also do want to say that the tea party people are absolutely correct with one of their principal expressed sentiments, and that is a general distrust of government and a fear of government overreaching. But I strongly suspect it is not really the government in se they resent, but the parts of it that implement policies they dislike, and more specifically, by a party and African American man at its helm.
There are very good reasons to be suspicious of government, even when the original intention is to do good. For that reason, alone, dissent against it has value; even when it is not altogether coherent and when it is clearly partisan, as in this case, because it keeps politicians on their toes, and that is a very healthy thing. But I extend this suspicion to all institutions, including private business, large and small, where, in fact, an equal or greater amount of corruption exists. The thing that makes it less problematic than government power is that power in private hands is generally not monopolistic, whereas the government's power is. We have more alternatives and choices in the marketplace.
The pluralism inherent in private property and its adjunct, free markets, helps guard our individual liberties through the diffusion of power over our lives, and that is of paramount importance. Competition amongst firms affects not only product quality and price, but also reputation and integrity. In other words, competition can keep the players honest, not always in the short run, as we know, but very often in the long run. It is the role of government (among others) to smooth the rough edges of the marketplace, and also to provide a safety net for those who fall through the cracks, which any one of us is apt to do at one time or another (it is worth noting that the poll shows tea party members like their government benefits!). Voters and dissenters, alike, and yes, that includes tea party people, are all we have to keep politicians and regulators accountable by forcing them to compete for the consent of the governed. And notwithstanding its flaws, democracy undergirded by a system of law in our repulblic is better than the alternatives.