In today’s Guardian, Michael Cohen uses The Tea Party to explain Mitt Romney’s “anti-change agenda.”
Read between the lines and what Romney is really preaching is an ideology of preservatism and restoration – of nostalgia for “the way things used to be.”
The fears of progress and the fetishization of an ideal past that Romney is playing upon here go far beyond economic concerns, but to larger societal and cultural ones. In their recent book on the rise of the Tea Party movement, Theda Skocpol and Vanessa Williamson, note that when interviewing Tea Party members, they rarely, if ever, heard about economic worries, but rather the “nightmare of societal decline”. According to Skocpol and Williamson, those they spoke with “worried that their children do not grow up fishing in local streams or know what it was like to feel safe walking home late at night.” Others “talked about swings being taken out of playgrounds to meet persnickety safety standards, and schoolchildren suspended for carrying pocketknives.” For them, a message of nostalgia is political catnip.