Christopher Hitchens, writing in the January issue of Vanity Fair, is gravely concerned that radical Tea Party rhetoric may sink in and undermine meaningful debate about the real problems our nation faces:
There is an old Republican saying that “a government strong enough to give you everything you want is strong enough to take away everything you have.” This statement contains an essential truth that liberals have no right to overlook. But it is negated, not amplified, if it comes festooned with racism and superstition. In the recent past, government-sponsored policies of social engineering have led to surprising success in reducing the welfare rolls and the crime figures. This came partly from the adoption by many Democrats of policies that had once been called Republican. But not a word about that from Beck and his followers, because it isn’t exciting and doesn’t present any opportunity for rabble-rousing. Far sexier to say that health care—actually another product of bipartisanship—is a step toward Nineteen Eighty-Four. Ten percent unemployment, on the other hand, is rather a disgrace to a midterm Democratic administration. But does anybody believe that unemployment would have gone down if the hated bailout had not occurred and GM had been permitted to go bankrupt? Why not avoid the question altogether and mutter about a secret plan to proclaim a socialist (or Nazi, or Jew-controlled: take your pick) dictatorship?
Again, there is a real debate about the pace and rhythm of global warming, and about the degree to which it has been caused (or can be slowed) by human activity. But at the first Tea Party rally I attended, at the Washington Monument earlier this year, the crowd—bristling with placards about the Second Amendment’s being the correction—was treated to an arm-waving speech by a caricature English peer named Lord Monckton, who led them in the edifying call-and-response: “All together. Global warming is?” “Bullshit.” “Obama cannot hear you. Global warming is?” “bullshit.” “That’s bettah.” I don’t remember ever seeing grown-ups behave less seriously, at least in an election season.
Especially as it comes from a writer who eschews anything that smacks of liberal orthodoxy – the entire essay is well worth a read.