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Old 10-18-2013, 09:50 AM   #139
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Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Mid-Atlantic
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It may be more useful to compare the tea-party movement to a different sort of party that tends to crop up in parliamentary systems: far-right populist parties based on backward-looking ideologies of national identity. In France, the Netherlands and Austria, such parties consistently win substantial portions of the vote. Like the tea-party movement, they tend to be fiercely protective of existing social-welfare programmes that benefit the elderly and the ethnic majority, and bitterly opposed to social-welfare programmes that benefit ethnic minorities or immigrants.

And like the tea-party movement, they can win by losing: their partisans may treat legislative defeats as a badge of honour, and in any case, when government is stymied, the economy weakens, and people get angry, populist parties that avoid responsibility and stay out of government draw more support. But in parliamentary systems, fringe populist parties are rarely included in governing coalitions, in large part because their tendency to value expressive identity-based politics over concrete legislative goals makes them extremely difficult for other parties to work with. The weakness of two-party systems such as America’s is that purists who treat politics as a type of self-affirming performance art have to be included in one party or the other, and indeed are likely to regard themselves as being that party’s true soul.
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