I agree with Ross Douthat about one thing: the tea parties resemble the antiwar protests of 2002-2003. But that’s not a good thing. Douthat correctly points out that the antiwar marches were probably counterproductive, boosting support for Republican hawks in the 2002 midterms and 2004 presidential election. (The American people don’t like prolonged wars, as polling figures for the Korean, Vietnam, and Iraq conflicts demonstrate. But as the ghost of Richard Nixon could tell you, one thing Americans like less than open-ended wars is disruption in the streets.) The tea parties risk ghettoizing anti-tax sentiment.
Ghettoizing? Or Perot-izing? Republicans ought to worry that the anti-tax movement will be captured by an independent candidate in '12 who would persuasively argue that neither party had exhibited fiscal sanity while in power. Ross Perot's populist movement elected Bill Clinton in '92. Anything resembling it would surely help President Obama far more than his GOP challenger.