Here’s a weird story out of the suburbs of Detroit where a woman is facing jail time for planting a vegetable garden in her front yard, which local officials have decided violates the rule mandating suitable live plant material.
The fact that this kind of thing doesn’t seem to prompt much in the way of outrage from the very same people who are scandalized by increased regulation of light bulbs tells you a lot about American politics. For one thing, there are several giant industries willing and eager to put up lots of money to fund people to complain about the work of climate change activists, so these stories get blown up. But it’s also just a reminder that, in practice, things like support for free markets, belief in freedom, hostility to government regulation, support for small government, etc. play no actual role in American politics. It’s interesting that the political movement to which a plurality of Americans belong likes to talk a lot about these ideas. But there’s no nationwide tea party backlash against lawn regulations. The very same impulses that lead people to dislike the idea of new regulations forcing some change in their life lead the very same people to love the idea of old regulations that prevent other people from impinging on their psychic serenity.
I think John Boehner’s complaint that Barack Obama is “snuffing out the America I grew up in” was very telling as to what politics is really about. Back when Boehner was a kid, tax rates were much higher, gays were in the closet, women were in the kitchen, nobody listened to hip-hop, and a black man in the White House was a science fiction scenario. He feels nostalgic about it, and would probably be mad as heck if hippie locavores started planting vegetable gardens all over his neighborhood.