Newt Gingrich prophesies that the Tea Party will become the militant arm of the GOP. I've got news for Newt: it already is. Dick Armey saw the opportunity to exploit the brand of a moderate Libertarian political initiative and took it. The only thing heard from Libertarians since has been through the equivocal musings of Ron Paul about the fringe elements of the Tea Party. Congressman Paul, the fringe of which you speak is 50% of your number. It is also the most visible part, as no doubt intended by Dick Armey.
What does Dick Armey get from his investment in buses and websites and consultants? He gets a disposable brand name that can insulate the GOP from the excesses that a militant arm of a political party might undertake. He gets deniability and distance and expendability. You are expendable Tea Party. And Newt ought to keep his mouth shut.
The social conservatives that have expropriated the Tea Party give it, through their media visibility, the appearance of a racist, religio-capitalist and militaristic movement. The other half of the Tea Party are simply concerned about money, deficits and responsible government, as is their icon Ron Paul. The GOP base component, supporters of Sarah Palin as a political figurehead, exhibit the classic symptoms of GOP social conservative adherents. They are incapable of making any sense and don't care if they do. Libertarians, by contrast, are as sober and thoughtful as a county judge; they are persons you can have a conversation with and not feel the need to bring a firearm along to defend your point.
The GOP base is a lazy bunch with animal cunning, unwilling to do the real work of constructing and communicating a coherent economic or budgetary policy since Reagan. The fact that Reagan's policies were only semi coherent in detail and totally failed systemically, and spectacularly, has reduced the GOP political argument to "the gubmit sucks." Admittedly, it would be hard to construct a political argument that would loose the vastly wealthy to gorge on the public like hyenas on the sick and weak of a wildebeest herd.
Libertarians, on the other hand, are often as offended by the abuses of business as they are the excesses of government. Libertarians have had some long overdue political traction, eclipsed now by the GOP social conservatives. The practical political principle of a Libertarian is that spending is done if it does any good. It is a tough ideal to realize in practice, but it is an ideal to which most Americans could adhere. Small government is a rubric, a succinct preemptive rhetorical strike on recklessness and waste in government. It's a pity the Libertarian message has been appropriated by the GOP profiteering class to cripple critical oversight functions of government in a corporate age that the Framers could not have anticipated.
The TARP program is postulated to have kicked off the Tea Party movement with a nearly pure Libertarian base. TARP is winding down and financial reform promises to, at least, create a framework from which competent regulation may grow. Similarly, health care reform acknowledges the problem of medical costs gone wild in profiteering. Even though the mandate is offensive to most, it is arguable that the excesses of the health industry itself made it a regulatory requirement. At issue right now though, with Libertarians and Americans in general alike, are jobs and deficit spending.
Deficit spending versus jobs is now the focus of 50 million Monday morning economists. Would that we had had more time or access to prepare the public and that there were actual economic science to work with rather than politically manufactured ideologies like Trickle Down, but here we are. On the potency of our economic belief systems now rests the fate of a nation, and likely the world. This is no longer a political game of who's up and who's down. It is not a sport. At peril is the existence of democracy, that because democracy is an economic luxury funded and supported entirely by a motivated middle class of exceptional men and women, as were the Founders.
The GOP is uninterested in problem solving for or from the public. To them all decisions and policy come from the corporate oligarchy. Your opinion is not required nor is your protest welcome. The only protest that is welcome is protest against the protesters, those that would reform and subdue the power of the personless rule of corporate profits. To protest against the protesters is what the Tea Party has been commandeered to do, and to deflect criticism of doing that by the appearance of independence.
To the extent that government is at fault for that of which the Libertarian component of the Tea Party protests, is the extent to which government is in the political funding thrall of the corporations.
Consider that Social Security is the product of a corporate world with the means but not the inclination to fund retirement of their work force. Medicare likewise. These obligations were pushed down on the public, socializing the moral ethical failures of the private business world. Should people have saved all their lives for retirement and medical expenses of aging? Perhaps. But in order to do so they should have had unrestrained collective bargaining to help them achieve that, in a labor market as free as has been the capital market. Business is all too willing to socialize expenses, but never profits. The same mindset gave us TARP. The GOP is the party of business failure both technically and morally, and they are the party of TARP. One has to ask how a Libertarian can align himself with them, other than out of fear of the socialism the GOP themselves depend on to absorb expenses like education, infrastructure, retirement and health care for the aging.
The question Libertarians must ask themselves before their moment in the limelight passes again is this: will you accede to a preemptory move by the GOP to put you in their estimation of your proper place, subservient to the modern equivalent of the East India Tea Company?