When the positive push for less government gets tainted and polluted by idiots like this.
Let's be clear, the Tea Party movement has core values and principles that are undoubtedly libertarian and pro-freedom. In and of itself it promotes small government, free markets and fiscal responsibility. The fact that some Republicans have actually taken it upon themselves to embrace what are the core values and principles of the United States of America is positive. It is frightening the silver spoon socialists like Nancy Pelosi, who hasn't seen a problem she didn't want the government to fix.
It has perplexed President Obama who is astonished that only two years after he won off the back of a euphoria of incredibly vacuousness ("change" I'll give you "change") he isn't getting "credit" for introducing compulsory health insurance, bailing out failed banks and automotive manufacturers and spending billions of dollars that are not being raised in taxes.
The Democrats are lost between being amazed that so many Americans are embracing the small government message, disappointed that Barack Obama has not parted the sea, healed the sick, rebuilt the economy and "changed" everything for the better, so have resorted to accusing the Tea Party Movement of racism (the cheap instant slur thrown about with such abandon that it demeans those who fought true racism).
So it is an opportunity, yet it is one that is so readily squandered in the hands of Christian conservatives who seek to use the state to promote or enforce their own beliefs.
There is no majority in the United States of Christians who want the Federal Government to promote religion in schools, to regulate behaviour between consenting adults or restrict freedom of speech. Indeed those like O'Connell who dare to question whether the United States is a secular liberal democracy will do far more damage to the Tea Party Movement than anything else.
For the "wingnut" religious right in the US will vote Republican in any case, but by associating the Tea Party Movement with religion it alienates swinging voters who find religious fundamentalism distasteful, but who agree with small government, free markets and fiscal responsibility.
Yes some imbecilic parents want their children to be taught that the pseudo-science of creationism is "as valid" scientifically as evolution. The appropriate answer to that is to privatise education, so that schools can set themselves up as they wish and teach as they wish, so the state is not involved. The answer is not to confuse beliefs in the supernatural with the state.
It is why the likes of Sarah Palin can not be the Presidential candidate for the Republicans in 2012. She does not consistently believe in small government (she believes in the war on drugs for starters,and she has lobbied for earmarked pork funding from the Federal Government for Alaska) and she cannot help but get tied up in linking religion to public policy (by claiming war in Iraq was part of "god's plan").
The Tea Party can be a great force for good, but it will be undone only by two types of people, the religious right who want it to be a proxy for an agenda that is anything BUT about reducing the size the government, (and so frightening off moderate Christians, and non-Christians to the Democrats or not voting at all) and (more likely) the sleazy, pork barrel carrying, power hungry statists who have dominated the Republican Party for decades.
Sarah Palin is in both camps, she finds it difficult to separate her religion from her publicly expressed political views and has also shown herself to be part of the establishment (as well as being far from bright).
I am wishing the Tea Party the very best in the mid-terms, if only because it will send a message to the Republican Party, and because the Democrats will have no way of confronting it other than attack (how can they embrace a movement that runs contrary to all they say and do). However, it cannot and should not be a hostage to imbecility or those for whom the phrase "Christian theocracy" doesn't send chills down their spines.