There has been speculation about the future of the Tea party. Will it die out? Is it here to stay? The opinions are many.
In this post, I am going to argue that the only thing that can ensure that the Tea Party survives over the forseeable future is if Romney is the Republican nominee in 2012.
First, we should be clear about one thing: If Republicans win the next presidential election, it is over for the Tea Party, no matter who does it. Being insurgents against a democratic president, that's one thing. But few people are actually willing to go against the establishment in the party if they happen to control the white house - that is why there was no Tea party back in the Bush era. The Tea Party won't be able to muster the strength it needs to affect anything if a Republican is president.
Now, let's look at the other scenarios and how they would play out for the Tea Party:
1) If Palin is the nominee and loses, then that is it. The Tea Party will have been officially defeated by Obama and his ilk. It will die, and MSNBC will be dancing on its grave.
2) If Huckabee is the nominee and loses, that will be it too, since he still (according to polls) have a lot of favor with Tea Partiers and is a Republican outsider. The outsiders will have a hard time staging a comeback after a Huckaloss. It will probably mean the end for the FairTax as well I'm afraid (which would be sad for me as a supporter of the FairTax system).
3) If Gingrich is the nominee and loses, they will probably die too. Gingrich, while by many seen as a part of the establishment, is one of the authors of the Contract with America, and his 1994 revolution could be seen as a predecessor to what happened in 2010. That makes him enouh associated with the Tea Party so that a loss for him could be blamed on the movement.
4) Romney on the other hand, is as establishment as it gets. Some of his supporters may say that this portrayal is unfair, but it is none the less there. If Romney were to be nominated, but go on to lose against Obama, the Tea Party would certainly surge since this would prove that "establishment republicans can't get elected (either)", "we need more candidates from Sams' club, not the country club" and "Had it not been for the fact that we nominated a Rino, we would have won" (this is the way they would spin it, anyway). Palin would then have a shot at the nomination in 2016. It would be kind of like when Goldwater was nominated in 1964 after (the much more moderate) Nixon's loss in 1960.
Of course, if Palin/Huckabee/Romney were indeed elected president, there might not be a need for the Tea Party anymore. The movement will still cease to exist, for a "good" reason (because they have reached their goal) or for a "bad" reason (their candidate has been rejected by the people).
These are my thoughts on the issue. What do you others think about this?