Dumping the Far Right with the tea


Many readers will be familiar with the worthlessness of political labels. Oh, Libertarian are you? So that’s the same as liberal? No? What’s that? A "classical liberal"? OK, so it’s conservative, but you’re not a huge fan of Cameron? But what, not Bush either? You get the picture.

But even among such confusion, there’s one thing everyone can agree on – they all hate the "Far Right". Naturally this political group is no less incomprehensible than any other – amorphous enough for conservative Americans to pin on Obama, and for him to return in kind. Makes you feel lucky to be in Europe where Jörg Haider, Nick Griffin and company simplify things by sticking to the "classical Far Right" model, no?

In the past, the privilege of branding opponents as "far right" in the US was the preserve of Democrats against Republicans. Therefore, as if by habit, Democrats last night lamented the triumph of Far Right politics as Scott Brown shook the political status quo by turning Massachusetts Red. But the easy marriage of this historically successful association is shrinking.

I wrote a while back that so-called "Far Right" social conservatism was giving way to libertarianism as the GOP’s most powerful weapon, led by the phenomenon of the Tea Party movement. Brown’s victory is yet another triumph for this perception. This new Republicanism is tough to discredit, as it’s peppered with that very American, and oh-so-un-Far-Right idea, "freedom".

Of course, the Left still tries. MSNBC’s in-house "firebrand" commentator Keith Olbermann provides a nice taster of current Democrat sentiment here, where the key outtake would be describing the Tea Party movement as:

…perhaps the saddest collection of people who don’t want to admit why they hate since the racists of the South in the 60s insisted they were really just concerned about States' rights.

Well Keith, isn’t it impressive what this mob of hick racists has achieved? Thanks to them, even as the numbers of self-proclaimed conservatives dwindle, it’s becoming harder and harder for left-wing Democrats to woo independents, leading to a tremendously entertaining political tussle.

Americans "left and right" seemingly still believe they have something to fight for, yet here in Britain we can barely summon an ounce of enthusiasm for an imminent general election that could turf out one of the most disastrously incompetent governments in history. And that’s a shame, because freedom isn’t just about practical measurements, it’s about the psyche a society fosters in its people.