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The Tea Party's Kissing Cousin

Tea party, religious right often overlap, poll shows:

"The way the data looks, if this is a marriage of convenience, it's one that would be against the law. The relatives are too close," said Jones, a self-described progressive.

Okay, so that's a deliberately vague and somewhat shocking headline, sue me.  It's a functional analogy.

That being said, the biggest issue that I see the Tea Party facing is this one, the struggle to maintain a dedication to individual liberty, small government and fiscal responsibility without being sacrificed on the altar of social conservatism.

The Tea Partiers may share socially conservative beliefs, but the Tea Party is not, at its core, a socially conservative movement. No movement that wants to amend the constitution to protect a private arrangement (marriage), protest the free expression of certain religions (Islam), use Government to deny private property rights (Park51), use Government to dictate individual medical treatment (Abortion), etc... is in any way in favor of small government. The Tea Party movement was started around fiscal conservatism, not social conservatism.

The problem is that it's getting harder and harder to distinguish between the Tea Party and the social conservatives and you can pretty much blame the Tea Parties for that. The first Tax Day Tea Party had nothing to do with social conservatism and everything to do with fiscal restraint. Since then the cause has been distorted and championed by people like Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann, at least publicly.

If the Tea Party as it was originally constituted wants to survive, they need to decide what they are on the whole and find a way to speak with one voice.

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