And though the Democratic Party is the current target, it is against the Republicans that the Tea Party most urgently distinguishes itself. The feel I get is not simply that the Tea Party is the GOPs MoveOn.org. (One could argue that it is, after all. Both groups are activist and grassroots and organizationally non-traditional, and both have billionaire patrons: MoveOn has George Soros, the Tea Party has the Koch brothers. Enough said?) Whereas MoveOn folk were immediately successful in getting their kind of Democrats into power, the Tea Partiers have, so far, only removed establishment-types of Republicans from the running.
And this is important. The Tea Party began as a destroying angel.
Its first big serious move (after all the demonstrations, of course) was to bring down a series of Republican Insiders; voters gave established Republicans from Utah to Alaska to Delaware the pink slip, stained with tea.
Well see how well the new Tea Party-approved candidates fare in November. But win or lose, merely by setting a standard, the movement has performed a public service by demanding specific representation.
If Tea Party-backed candidates win, who can argue with the strategy? But even if Tea Party candidates dont prevail in November, the movements creative destruction will have at least realigned the Republican Party in a way more pleasing to the majority of Republicans.
The GOP is badly in need of something more than tough love. So is the Democratic Party. One election wont do the job. We need tons of follow-up. In fact, there is so much reform needed, and so much resistance to popular government among the political elite, that we need a highly-caffeinated watchdog.