A Norwegian tea party movement?

I haven’t paid much attention to the tea party movement in the US.  The problem with Norwegians is that everyone thinks they’re an expert on American politics.  It’s our favorite reality show.  My way of protesting that is to disengage, and reserve judgment.

But this weekend the Norwegian Progress Party invited Tim Phillips from Americans For Prosperity to speak at their party convention.  So I looked into what they’re all about.  The opinion in Norway is that these protesters are a bunch of racist wackos.  But given our track record in understanding American politics, that doesn’t count for much.

The thing is: Organizations have one opinion.  Movements have a thousand.  The question is not what sign you’ll find at some rally, but what it is that all these people have in common, what are the ideas that bind them together?  The answer, it seems, is fiscal conservatism: tax reduction, limited government, market liberalism.

I would love it if otherwise non-activist Norwegians were to regularly show up with their friends and families to protest for lower taxes, smaller government, and open markets.  And I would love it if the Progress Party, a hybrid of social democratic, conservative and libertarian ideas, would move further in that direction.   Please do.

Grassroots movements like this is a sign of health, even if they also attract the wackos.  But importing this to Norway requires that we change how we see our relationship with the government – that we learn to see ourselves as citizens, not subjects or clients.  That’s hard.  But possible.

7 Responses to A Norwegian tea party movement?

  1. I don’t agree with much of what the Progress Party or the Tea Party movement stands for. But your observations on both are amazingly accurate and insightful. Thank you for being a voice of sanity yet again.

  2. Sprudlum says:

    Litt Tea Party propaganda fra YouTube :

    Om ikke annet, så viser den i hvert fall at idéene om frihet og uavhengighet for individet har en ganske annen folkelig forankring enn i Norge.

  3. Konrad says:

    The Progress Party (Frp) supports big government in key areas such health care. Tea party movement generally opposes big government, particularly in health care. Strange bed fellows indeed.

  4. Not so strange. There seems to me quite some overlap here with both the libertarian and the populist impulses in the Progress Party. They even started out as a grassroots tax protest movement themselves. And despite the big government stuff, I think their feelings about private enterprise, and their outrage at unnecessary regulations, are genuine. It’s just at that, um, they also want to spend lots and lots of money.

    But let’s turn it around: Could you imagine any _other_ Norwegian party inviting this guy?

  5. Konrad says:

    Update: Did you read Strømmens comment “Dubious freedom fighters”?
    http://fritanke.no/KOMMENTAR/2010/Tvilsomme_frihetskjempere/

  6. Yeah. The question is: When it comes to a popular grassroots movement, should you look at what some guy put on a sign at some protest, or at what all these people have in common?

    I actually don’t have a clear answer to that – it’s possible that the willingness of the “sensible” protesters to tolerate the “wackoes” reveals something bad about them as well. But to just say that some guy may have shouted ‘nigger’ once is not very relevant, unless you can show that this is common, or that most people there were okay with that.

    The demographics of the protesters is particularly irrelevant. It does not prove a racist factor, just a socioeconomic factor. In fact, the Reason article I linked to had an interesting video with interviews with black Tea Party protesters. I find these and ot her videos with interviews and speeches, which are easy to find, really illuminating. Now _maybe_ these are the only sane people there, but it seems more likely to me that there’s some stereotyping here about angry, gun-waving, racist right-wingers.

    I’m not saying those people don’t exist, though, and I’m sure they too show up at these protests. But that’s kind of the point: Can you imagine any sort of major grassroots movement that will not also attract wackoes? I can’t. Which means – are we saying that grassroots movements are inherently evil? That unless there’s an organization with a clear vision in charge, who can throw out anyone they don’t like, the only responsible thing is to shun the entire movement?

  7. Pingback: Gazademonstrasjoner og Tea Party-bevegelsen – samme sak? « Bjørn Stærk's Max 256 Blog

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