While speaking with another who is constantly polling and checking the pulse of the public, the conversation quickly moved to the inordinate fear that so-called "establishment Republicans" have of the "tea party." Trust me, they are terrified when the name is even casually brought up. But I quickly found that both of us shared a rather strong belief: The organized tea party movement is now so diffuse that, as a singular political force, they will cease to matter in most "red state" GOP primaries in 2014 and even less so in general elections.
Splintered into all types of subgroups, including one bizarre marriage that generally ultra-left groups call the "green tea party," the wheel-intended wheels are coming off any concerted and organized effort to influence elections, as we saw take place in 2010. Oh, yes, many conservatives still support the old philosophy of less spending and less taxes espoused by the various tea-party-related entities in 2010 and 2012. But they have no centralized message and splinter groups such as "green tea" so confuse their natural base that their clout is waning as a force to be reckoned with.
But those leaders who are often named "RINOs," "neocons," or "Bushies," regardless of whether any of the terms really fit, have plenty to fear in the next few years. They are just focusing their attention in the wrong direction.
What has not been widely reported by many in the media has been the growing noise that those who followed the philosophy and numerous presidential efforts of Ron Paul, and who have now progressed to son and Kentucky U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, have managed to make at various Republican statewide conventions and meetings in the past year or so, throughout the nation.
Their emergence is more like that of the Moral Majority and Christian Coalition, both of whom played a huge role in GOP politics during the 1980s and certainly the 1990s. Their rise to power, like that of the so-called "Paulites," was more methodical in nature and took longer to mature than that of the tea party movement, which burst on the scene just a year or so before it literally helped change control of the U.S. House of Representatives in the 2010 elections.
Unlike the tea party of recent years, the support for the "Paulites" is likely less prominent among voters. But their strength at the intra-party level is much stronger than that of the rudderless and leaderless tea party movement of 2013. And with the emergence of a more polished and less polarizing national leader, that of Sen. Paul, they may begin to pick up an increasing percentage of support among GOP primary voters, many of whom identified with the tea party philosophy of old.