There's a lot of murmuring in the right-wing grassroots that the reform-minded Congressional freshmen elected by the Tea Party movement are not turning out to be nearly as principled or effective as many had hoped they would be. There's a serious concern that they are selling out to establishment interests or were never really sincere in their beliefs and were just pandering to the activists in order to get elected.
The problem here is exemplified by the newly formed Tea Party Caucus in the House. A look at their membership list reveals many long-time incumbents, some of them with terrible voting records on fiscal issues and on reducing the size and intrusiveness of government. I need only point to two of the worst from my own state of Texas, Lamar Smith and Joe Barton, two of the worst pro-establishment, big-spenders in the House and ones who have been there a long time. In fact, both of them are likely to face Tea Party primary challengers in 2012. There are some good legislators and serious reformers on the list like Roscoe Bartlett, Louie Gohmert and Joe Wilson, but they're all established incumbents. The problem is that nobody owns the Tea Party brand, so anyone can claim to represent them, no matter how ridiculous that claim is.
Some of the biggest names associated with the Tea Party have been among the most disappointing, particularly Allen West and Marco Rubio from FLorida, while a small number have stuck to their guns like Justin Amash, Rand Paul and Mike Lee. Rubio remains one of the darlings of the more mainstream Republican wing of the Tea Party, but he's a long-time political insider in Florida politics and it's clear from his latest press release that he really doesn't get it.