The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza wrote an article called, What if the tea party decides to walk away from the GOP in 2016? It could happen. His piece was inspired by Reed Galen's take in the New Conservative called The Republican (r)Evolution Here's what caught Chris' eye.
However, in the case of the Tea Party, their lack of central organization and strict adherence to ideology over politics makes them a potent ingredient tossed into the evolutionary soup.
That the Establishment wing of the party is either unwilling or unable to co-opt them for the larger goal of winning major elections shows just how exotic an addition to the mix the Tea Party is. They won’t do what you want them to unless they’ve already made up their mind to do it. Reasoning with them doesn’t work because their starting point isn’t based in rationality but passion.
Yes, the tea party has been unreasonable and is causing the GOP some real pain, but that's what happens when you let the nuts run the nut house. As Chris hypothesizes, it is possible that the tea party might someday break off from the GOP, but that would happen only to form a third party. In reality their goal is to force the GOP into their own form of extreme conservatism and Christian identity politics kicking and screaming the whole way.
Time after time over the least three-plus years, Boehner has seen his priorities thwarted by his own conference -- roughly four dozen of whom clumped in the tea party wing simply will not support anything he backs. By late last year, Boehner appeared fed up -- unleashing a now famous/infamous "are you kidding me?" in reaction to the tea party's approach to the government shutdown.
Cillizza sees a possible confrontation in 2016 and his belief is that the tea party will lose out:
Now, someone will win that fight -- that's the good thing about campaigns, someone always wins. But, the broader issue raised by Galen is whether the loser -- assuming it is the tea party wing -- will simply fold itself into the Republican party or go its own way.
But here's where Chris strays from reality.
Data suggests that the answer is far from resolved. A March Washington Post-ABC News national poll showed that while tea party supporters are more Republican than Democratic, they are far from monolithic for the GOP. Thirty eight percent of tea party supporters identified themselves as Republicans while 14 percent called themselves Democrats.
The biggest chunk -- 39 percent -- said they were independents. (The party ID among all adults in that poll broke down this way: 30 percent Democrats, 22 percent Republicans and 40 percent independents.)
I have a question. Have you ever seen a tea party member call themselves a Democrat? Me either. I don't care what that poll shows there. If the tea party folks that identified as independents really were independent, then you would think we would see tea party lefties already running for office. Most people that say they are independents are either embarrassed Republicans because of the Bush years or are from the radicalized Cliven Bundy/Richard Mack types. while a small margin will call themselves independent so that they appear to be "real thinkers' to their friends and family.
Here's my point. The tea party is monolithic. They will never, ever support the Democratic party or real progressive ideas. When it comes to economics, they will always support the "lower taxes and cutting government spending" meme and they will always identify as pro-life. There may be a single issue that comes where both sides agree, but that's it. I wish the Beltway would stop conflating crap with what's really happening on the ground.