The Future of the Tea Party

By Beacon Staff
By Tim Baldwin

Understand first, the tea party is not a party. It is a faction of the Republican Party.

It has no organization, platform or leadership. The tea party consists of anarchists and theocrats and everything in between, so their concepts and terminologies are not even consistent.

Their commonality: they are extremely dissatisfied. This alone does not create long-standing political power.

While “enthusiasm” may seem noble, it can be damaging if used incorrectly. Since 1787, only two parties at a given time have dominated American politics, with hardly any exceptions.

The tea party seems to act as if this reality of human nature and experience does not apply to them.

They refuse to form a political party; rather, they rely on the Republican Party to serve as its political host. Naturally, if the Republican Party is weak, the tea party will likewise suffer in general elections. Both Ron and Rand Paul – icons of the tea party – admit this.

Yet, the tea party, in some ways, works against the Republican Party and thereby assists the Democrats. Something has to give: either the tea party has to become (1) its own political party, or (2) more cooperative with the Republican Party. Otherwise, expressly non-conservatives will increasingly dominate politics.

By Joe Carbonari

So, where is the Montana Republican Party headed? Will it be tea party tempest as the 2014 primaries unfold, or tea party tepid as they run out of steam?

Are the upcoming battles going to be good for the state or will they set us back? It seems to me that it will depend on how the “war” is waged.

If acrimony and name-calling are the keynotes, my guess is that the Republican Party overall will suffer. This is likely true nationally as well.

If, on the other hand, reasoned, rational debates actually take place – on matters of substance – the Republican brand and the state’s general well-being will likely improve. We have a two-party system, and both parties must be healthy and functional for the system to work well.

The difficulties of the Great Recession dealt us a serious blow. Conservatism and austerity became our watchwords.

The tea party’s enthusiasm was welcomed and embraced. Now, however, it is time to disengage.

A foot on the brake and a hand on the horn made some sense during the downslide, but now that we are fighting the uphill battle for a return to economic normality, and eventually even prosperity, we need to cut the psychological and economic drag that they have become.

They are well-intentioned, but they are wrong. It’s time to tell them so.

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