David Brooks sees a parallel between the New Left and the Tea Party movement and cites Rousseau in support of this dubious claim.
[T]he core commonality is this: Members of both movements believe in what you might call mass innocence. Both movements are built on the assumption that the people are pure and virtuous and that evil is introduced into society by corrupt elites and rotten authority structures. "Man is born free, but he is everywhere in chains," is how Rousseau put it.That is truer of the New Left than of the Tea Party folks. Both movements have their flakes and nuts, but the New Left's openness to or even embrace of Marx shows how radical they were--and they remain in power, in think-tanks and universities. Tea Partiers show far more Locke than Rousseau (and not just Lock and Load, either). That is, they are closer to what actually reflects human nature. There is no utopianism here, rather anti-utopianism.
The Tea Partiers have a sharper edge (and perhaps duller minds) than Brooks would care for, and he somehow denies they hold to a conservatism that believes in original sin and the institutions of civilization. He contends that "They don't seek to form a counter-establishment because they don't believe in establishments or in authority structures.... They believe in mass action and the politics of barricades, not in structure and organization."
Brooks misses their point. The Tea Party folks have rather discovered they live in the leviathan of centralized administration Tocqueville predicted. They object to being treated as a herd with a shepherd ordering them about. And unlike even the astute Tocqueville and our intellectual elites they take the principles of the Declaration of Independence seriously.