Much is being made in the mainstream media about a perceived schism in the Republican party due to the advancement of the TEA Party movement. With the primary victory of Christine O'Donnell, many in the so-called establishment fear that the TEA Party is causing more harm than good by advancing a candidate who is principled, though considered to be unelectable in a moderately blue state. So is this causing the GOP a schizophrenic breakdown, or are the voices inside their collective head nothing more than Jiminy Cricket? Also, is the GOP the only party plagued by internal divisions? Are the Democrats immune to internal strife or even mutiny?
Last year, I took the opportunity to attend my first local tea party. There were mostly good, old-fashioned people who were concerned about their country. But in a crowd of any size, you're seldom short of a minority of dubious types (i.e. the overweight gentleman in a Guy Fawkes costume). Generally, they have the same principles as most dinner-table Republicans have always had: pro-life, pro-gun, pro-family, anti-tax, anti-big government, etc. These values aren't unusual, they're not outside the mainstream, they're not extremist. In fact, you can find these same ideas in the Republican party platform. The TEA party is simply serving as the conscience of the GOP, a reminder to politicians of the principles they were sent to Washington to protect. And they are achieving results.
For the GOP, the TEA party is a correction of the course in the conservative movement. It's not a hijacking of right wing extremist loons, at least not yet. Indeed, I suppose there's always the possibility of that happening. But in some cases, I'm not exactly sure I would pass one of them up for a seasoned politician who votes in such a way that would nauseate me consistently.