Andrew Sullivan today writes of “The Palinite know-nothing neurotic nationalism.” (He also links to a very interesting article in that post, so check it out.)
I don’t know if I’d go so far as to say “know-nothing neurotic”–the Republicans, the Tea Party and Palin seem to exhibit rather typical, run-of-the-mill nationalism to me. But you gotta love the alliteration, and the important thing is to recognize the driving force of the Tea Party–and thus, the Republican party–for what it is.
Incidentally, The Eclectic Iconoclast has a good post today about the Tea Party’s idealization of the Founding Fathers that helps explain this behavior. Basically, from what I can tell, nationalists usually believe that in their nation’s past it was a splendid paradise, and that the present-day imperfections are the result of a decline in National spirit and traditions and the rise of decadent cosmopolitanism, which must be stopped before the country can return to its past glory.
As the Iconoclast mentions, it’s an old, old idea; obviously calling to mind the story of the Garden of Eden and the supposed “fallen” nature of humanity. Perhaps that’s why it resonates with so many people–it’s a “universal theme”. (I’ve read about this sort of stuff before, somewhere–the works of Joseph Campbell, probably–though I can’t remember all the details.)