The Tea Party originally stood for one simple but important message: Stop Spending. For Tea Partiers, TARP was the litmus test and any Republican who supported it faced the wrath of the movement.
Tea Party support for Newt Gingrich is as mind-boggling as it is depressing. Gingrich stands for everything the Tea Party was against: TARP, bank bailouts, healthcare mandates, cap-and-trade, you name it.
If the Tea Party abandons its “Stop Spending” message it becomes just another part of the Republican Party, the movement loses its original independence and simply morphs back into the GOP machine–something both right and left critics always said would happen. Sen. Lindsey Graham bragged in 2010 that the Tea Party would “die out” because it had “no governing vision.” I argued that as long as the Tea Party stood firmly against spending it would remain an indomitable force in American politics.
Is Graham now being proven right?
Ron Paul wants to cut $1 trillion his first year in office. Newt Gingrich calls Paul’s plan too extreme and a “non-starter.” The choice for any serious Tea Party member is clear.
But that it is not clear for many represents the first signs that the Tea Party might be waning. One need not necessarily support Ron Paul to be a Tea Partier. But supporting Newt Gingrich negates the entire point of even having a Tea Party.
American politics before the Tea Party was mostly a popularity contest. The Tea Party was supposed to represent something more substantive. Gingrich is a good speaker which makes him popular. But the same is true of Barack Obama. The devilish aspects of charming candidates always lies in the details. This is especially true of Newt Gingrich.
The moment Tea Partiers decide they are no longer concerned with such details, they surrender their movement.