Of course, once it became clear that the tea party was going to be a force — actually the force — in the 2010 midterms, Republicans of all stripes suddenly had a change of heart. The tea party became the proverbial prettiest girl at the political dance, and the Republican Party was all for a quickie Vegas wedding.
Let’s be honest, the marriage between the Republican Party and the tea party has always been a marriage of convenience — and an uncomfortable marriage of convenience at best. Unfortunately, this marriage is no longer working and it is time for both sides to move on. Call it irreconcilable differences.
The split doesn’t have to be a contentious one. The two can part as friends: certainly plenty of establishment Republicans would be happy to be free of the tea party, free to go back to doing business the way they have always done business; and there are growing numbers inside the tea party movement who would be happy to see the movement reassert its political independence.
To be fair, this marriage had little chance of succeeding long-term from the very beginning. The tea party was as much a reaction to the big-government excesses of the Republican Party as it was a reaction to the big-government excesses of the Democratic Party.
Many in the tea party movement believed that the Republican Party could be changed, could be saved from its big-government ways. It was certainly fair to surmise that changing the Republican Party into a truly limited-government party would be easier than changing the party of FDR, LBJ and Barack Obama.