Daniel McCarthy explains how the Tea Party will be co-opted even if it succeeds in sending the candidates it favors to Washington DC:

Not only are Fox News, the Weekly Standard, and AEI going to be defining the program for whatever Republicans get elected in November, but successful Tea Party candidates will for the most part have to draw upon the same pool of staffing talent that all the other Republicans draw upon, a reservoir composed of cadres of political professionals who live to build careers and sidle up to power, not to shake things up in Washington. Not all staffers will be of that ilk, but even those of a better sort may quickly find themselves dependent upon studies carried out by the establishment’s think tanks and vulnerable to attacks from the establishment’s media organs.


Even beyond personnel and policy, the Tea Parties are vulnerable at the philosophical level, where more articulate and comprehensive views tend to assimilate inchoate ones. The Tea Parties don’t like Obamacare, big spending, or bailouts. But that’s not a worldview, it’s a set of preferences that can be incorporated into any of several worldviews and subordinated to the overall thrust of whatever ideology it is integrated into. Certainly in the past the GOP has enfolded libertarian and anti-establishment impulses into an ideology whose chief concern was with expanding military and executive power. In order to resist being co-opted again, the Tea Parties would have to stake out a different general view of the world but who will do that staking out?

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.