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.