Support for the Tea Party from an Academic
Angelo Codevilla’s new book: the anger is legitimate| From Commonwealth | By Rich Barlow
Angelo Codevilla, a CAS professor emeritus of international relations, derides America’s “Ruling Class.” Photo courtesy of Beaufort Books
Rare is the professor whose latest book can boast a gushing introduction by Rush Limbaugh. But when the book sides with the Tea Party movement, it’s perhaps inevitable that it will attract the attention of one of the country’s preeminent conservative commentators. The volume, by Angelo Codevilla, a College of Arts & Sciences international relations professor emeritus, earned Limbaugh’s endorsement by making the Tea Party case “more soberly, bluntly and constructively than anyone else has done,” according to a New York Times reviewer.
The Ruling Class: How They Corrupted America and What We Can Do About It (Beaufort Books, 2010) argues that an elite, bipartisan “Ruling Class”—comprising Democratic politicians and voters, Republican political leaders, and government bureaucrats—has overtaxed, overregulated, and scorned the “Country Class” or “Country Party,” Codevilla’s term for all those who dissent from the Ruling Class’ views. Rather than serve the common good, he writes, modern liberalism’s government programs serve well-connected special interests.
With several Tea Party–backed candidates in the new Congress, you’d think Codevilla would be gleeful. But he outlines more ambitious goals than cutting federal spending and taxes. The Country Class can only reassert itself, he says, by recapturing a civic involvement and self-governance that it has ceded to bureaucrats. He points out that there were 117,000 school boards in 1940; today, they have congealed into just 15,000 school districts, giving Americans less chance “to exercise responsibilities similar to their grandparents’” in running schools.
But Codevilla says it’s not certain that either the Republican Party or the larger Country Party is willing to take up the burdens of citizenship “that their fathers and mothers laid down a generation ago—meaning service in local government and doing without some of the entitlements and administrative agencies that have come to characterize our lives. The differences between the agendas of the Republican and Democratic parties are really more apparent than they are real.”
And he takes issue with the liberal argument that the poor and working class suffered when the government interfered less in the private sector. “If that were the case,” he says, “why did millions of immigrants come to this supposed vale of tears and exploitation? This country was, because of its lack of regulation, a place where people could own what they earned and do what they wished with it.”