Newly elected Republican Senator Mike Lee of Utah, a favorite of the Tea Party, has warned his political admirers that they are "delusional" if they think they can change governmental policy overnight.
Frankly, that is the least of the Tea Party's delusions. A more telling one involves its faith in the political correctness of its backers who hail from the corporate world.
Among the Tea Party's basic tenets is the reduced presence of the central government. That would include the downsizing or actual dismantling of a host of federal agencies, and substantial delegation of regulatory powers to the states (which are ill-equipped to handle the many challenges that cut across state lines).
Another Tea Party mantra is to reduce the national deficit and balance the budget by selectively slashing, or in some instances eliminating altogether, the funding for federal programs. Taxes must be kept low to stimulate job growth, and the marketplace, not government regulation, is best suited to jump-start an ailing economy.
Many corporate patrons of the Tea Party are playing a duplicitous game. When federal regulation requires compliance that detracts from their bottom line, corporate backers echo the Tea Party's outrage at Washington's interference with the conduct of free enterprise. But when the federal government encroaches by awarding industry additional subsidies or tax breaks that give the businessmen an edge over their competitors, the silence is deafening. And if that were not enough of an ideological slight to the Tea Party, these subsidies and exemptions add to the very deficit that gives the grassroots movement such fits.
While the Tea Party is bemoaning the state of the economy, many of its corporate sympathizers are reporting record profits. Whatever additional revenues have accrued to these industrialists as a result of federal tax breaks and subsidies have yet to translate into significant job creation. Instead, many of the Tea Party's well-heeled supporters have used these profits--courtesy of the U.S. Treasury--to fatten their company stock price and outsource their operations to overseas locations awash with cheap labor.
You've got corporate bigwigs using anti-Obama rhetoric to arouse the partisan passions of the Tea Party faithful and distract them from recognizing they are working against their own interests. Federal regulations to protect public health and the environment end up being opposed by Tea Party activists who would be among the many beneficiaries of such measures.
The Tea Party suffers delusions from within as well as without. Because of modern day demographics, turning back the clock as Tea Party devotees yearn to do is a pipe dream. The days are numbered in which Caucasian ethnicity automatically gives one an initial leg up in the social (and economic) pecking order.
Population growth, accelerated drain on natural resources, and technological advances in communication, transportation, and highly polluting industrial production have transformed the world into a very complex place. Many problems have become so ubiquitous in character that they can only be effectively addressed through a coordinated centralized governmental approach unfortunately detested by the Tea Party.
There are other glaring examples of self-delusion. Tea Party followers rail about the deluge of government spending, but you don't hear many of them volunteering to dispense with their Social Security or Medicare benefits.
They are all for reducing the national budget deficit, shelling out only what the nation can afford, and keeping taxes from rising. Yet they have uttered hardly a peep about our fighting two wars that we are paying for largely by borrowing from the Chinese.
Now in a position of some authority, the Tea Party is about to clash with the political realities of Washington and the world, and it won't be pretty.