Tim Rutten: The GOP/'Tea' Party Radicalism





[Tim Rutten is a columnist for the LA Times.]

In an afterword appended to the White House diaries he published this week, former President Carter muses, "It may be difficult for some younger readers to realize how much the Washington political scene has changed in the last 30 years."

Carter points out that the congressional bipartisanship on which he relied for his considerable number of legislative achievements no longer exists and that the "pernicious effects of partisanship have not been limited to Washington; American citizens have also become more polarized in their beliefs.... Almost all segments of American society — the poor, the middle class and the wealthy — have become more alienated from our government. Observing the behavior of the Washington political establishment, people too often feel only frustration and mistrust; inevitably, we now see frequent exhibitions of anger and vituperation."

It's impossible to quarrel with Carter's characterization, and equally impossible not to notice that in an era when people speak only to those who share their particular angry haze, the politics of delusion and self-deception flourish. Take the current midterm election campaign, in which it has become commonplace for Republican/"tea" party candidates — the two names now are interchangeable — to assail President Obama's alleged radicalism and his purported plan to transform the United States into a European-style social democracy....


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