Ilya Somin links to a Cato Paper that says that the Tea Party movement is “functionally libertarian” Professor Somin notes:
How much of a libertarian impact the Tea Party will ultimately have remains to be seen. As I noted in my 2011 article, it’s possible the movement will peter out, get coopted by the socially conservative GOP establishment, or simply fail to gain enough political traction to influence policy any more than it already has. But Kirby and Ekins do make a strong case that the Tea Party has a strong libertarian element, and that it has pushed the GOP in a more libertarian direction over the last two years.
I’ve been reluctant to apply any labels to the Tea Party movement, because I think what they stand for varies quite a lot from group to group, and region to region. I went to a few rallies when this phenomena started, to see what it was about, and the best label I could apply to it is grassroots anger. We attended a forum hosted by one of the local groups, after it got a bit more organized, which previewed various contenders for the seat now held by Mike Fitzpatrick. The “Tea Party” candidate, who was younger than me by a few years, was pro-choice and favored drug legalization, which is probably why the county GOP did everything they could to ensure the Tea Party groups had no place at the table. I’ve never been quite sure what to make of the Tea Party movement, and haven’t been active in any groups, but I will admit they piss off and scare the right people, at least around here.
I want to thank reader Harold for pointing me to this article, outlining a scenario for why the Democratic Party is finished, and why the GOP will then move closer to the center and split, with the Tea Party folks forming a party that will eventually replace the Democrats. I like analysis like this, but I think it’s a lot of wishful thinking. People who follow politics closely often overestimate how much people really think about it. Party identification can be strong, and can take a long time to change. People who think of themselves as Democrats aren’t going to transform into Republicans, even if the Republicans move left. It would be like a Red Sox fan having to suddenly become a Yankee’s fan. Without some kind of calamity and major realignment, which I’ll give could happen, parties just don’t fail and get replaced — they adapt. So I would say rumors of either the death of the GOP or the Democrats is greatly exaggerated.