It's difficult for a political party to think strategically after a political defeat as severe as 2008's. But the Tea Party elevated the inability to think strategically into a fundamental conservative principle. Its militants denounce those Republicans who have resisted the movement as ideological traitors: "Republicans in name only" or even (charmingly) as "Vichy Republicans". In fact, the unthinking rejectionism of the Tea Party has strengthened Obama's political position. Now it threatens to deplete Republican strength in Congress, losing races that could have been won.
David Cameron's Conservatism responds to local British conditions. It's not an export product. But there is at least one big lesson that Americans could learn from him when the Tea Party finally ends: yes, a party must champion the values of the voters it already has. But it must also speak to the voters it still needs to win.
And yes, the Tea Party needs moderates and centrists (also called "independents") to win. They are operating in a coccoon right now, analogous to the so-called real estate bubble that sent the market crashing down nearly three years ago. All they hear (all they want to hear) are those who agree with them. They don't want reasoned debate because, after all, who wants to argue with an angry lunatic? What kind of meaningful debate can be had? It's not like their ideas have all that much traction. And the system is set up to favor incumbents anyway. Nevada's Senate race to oust Harry Reid (which is the GOP's Waterloo this year if Reid succeeds) is led by Sharron Angle, who advocates for the dismantling of Social Security and Medicare, and who has advocated for armed insurrection against the government. As Frum writes, she is being held back from talking to the press by GOP leadership until she is "ready," but really it's because she's even more apt to commit an excruciating gaffe than Joe Biden, who at least sounds like a leader.
The mid-term elections will render the Tea Party a non-story -- except, of course, to the Tea Partiers who will stubbornly refuse to give up the fight, moderate their anger, or engage in thoughtful discussion of the issues that really matter. In the end, their fight will boil down to trying to get rid of the dark-skinned president who doesn't look like them, but in reality has been working to help them financially for a year and a half.