More and more, I’m starting to think my hunch that the Tea Party is motivated by economic factors–particularly by Ricardian Equivalence–is wrong.  They seem to be motivated by deeper factors; more akin to fervent nationalism, or patriotism, than anything else.

Every now and again, the idea of “American Exceptionalism” crops up in their rhetoric. I think that this–and, more accurately, their perception that the administration does not believe in it–is what motivates them.

I’m coming to think Patrick Buchanan’s description of the Tea Party isn’t far off the mark.

I must seem like a regular “Buchanan Brigade” member, as this is my third post about him in eight days. Nevertheless, his new article about the Tea Party is very interesting, and serves as an effective complement to John Nolte’s attempt to explain the Tea Party that I discussed the other day.

I think Buchanan has sort of articulated what Nolte left unsaid in his article that made it seem a tad vague to me. Like much of Buchanan’s work, it’s all very Spenglerian. Perhaps the Tea Party movement is animated by issues other than just obvious economic ones. After all, rarely do people get so stirred up over economic issues. (They don’t call it “the dismal science” for nothing.)

Then again, like I’ve said repeatedly, it could be Ricardian Equivalence at work.

William Saletan writes:

“There was no America, as a nation, until Britain foolishly behaved as Palin now wants America to behave. Her advice is a prescription for superpower suicide. If she understood the Boston Tea Party as more than a slogan, she’d know that.”

It seems to me like the British Empire declined for very long time–never completely ceasing to be an Empire until after World War II. So, if Saletan is right and Palin’s advice is indeed analogous to the British policy at the time of the Boston Tea Party, we’ve still got about 200 years left.

On the one hand, it’s tempting to give in to this idea that history repeats itself. On the other hand, it strikes me as a rather simplistic analysis. I’m no historian, but I do think that Britain’s superpower status should probably have an asterisk by it, because they almost never successfully beat any similarly-equipped enemy apart from (sometimes) the French. The United States has defeated most of Europe twice.

As an aside, Pat Buchanan–who I wrote a post about last week–has been saying for years that we’re behaving like the British Empire did to trigger its decline.  Yet, he seems to be something of a fan of Palin.

(Hat Tip to Andrew Sullivan for the Saletan article.)

For quite some time–perhaps his whole career–Patrick Buchanan has been saying that World War II, despite its reputation as a Just war, was not the “Good War” it is made out to be, and, more controversially, that it was the result primarily of Britain’s blunders. He summed his case in his book Churchill, Hitler, and “The Unnecessary War“. 

Of particular interest to Buchanan is Churchill, who he thinks is vastly overrated as a statesman and as a man. To hear Buchanan tell it, Churchill’s mistakes helped to cause World War II. Even in his latest column, he makes sure to take a jab at Churchill.

I’m really of two minds about Buchanan; on the one hand, he is a total economic isolationist. I think this is a huge mistake. He tends to be too puritanical in his views on culture. He also supports the flying of the Confederate Flag, and, most bizarrely, supports the farcical “War on Drugs”. (The only American war he does support, it seems.)

And frankly, I’m not at all convinced that his ideas about war in general, and World War II in particular, are actually correct. The Nazis seem to have imagined themselves to be inherently superior to all other people. With an attitude like that, surely they were bound to attack America eventually, no matter what.

And yet, for all that, I can’t help but applaud the man for even examining this question. So many people who claim to oppose war in principle are willing to admit that World War II was worth fighting because, in that case–and seemingly just that one remarkable case, never to be again–the enemy was so indescribably evil that it must be defeated at once. (That they were evil is certain; that there have subsequently never been others as evil is not.) Buchanan is no pacifist, but he recognizes that if he’s going to make anything like a sound case against “going abroad in search of monsters to destroy“, he has to address the prevailing understanding that the only thing the Allies did wrong was not destroy Hitler and Nazi Germany sooner.