Looking to comprehend the rise of the Tea Party? Consult your local marine biologist, advises National Journal's Jonathan Rauch. He'll tell you that the Tea Party, like the delicious and resilient starfish, survives precisely because it has a non-central brain. Rauch argues that by remaining a loosely aligned collection of local activists, the Tea Party has preserved the starfish's unique structure: the arms are nominally independent "but can persuade each other to move." Cut off any one arm and "the starfish will grow a new arm and the arm will grow a new starfish."
Ray Gustini is the author of Lucky Town, a forthcoming book about sports in Washington, D.C. He is a former staff writer for The Atlantic Wire.