This week, Q & A examines the effect the Tea Party will have on the GOP's prospects in the upcoming midterm elections. Today, we hear from Mark Silk, who writes the blog Spiritual Politics and is a contributor at BeliefNet. Silk is a professor at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut.
The question: Will the Tea Party be a blessing or a curse for the GOP in the upcoming midterm elections?
Mark Silk: I predict that come November the Tea Party will be a blessing for the Republican Party -- unless the Democrats can manage to hang Tea Party extremism around GOP necks. As a constituency, the Tea Party represents little more than the social conservative base of the GOP, re-energized. What distinguishes it from the religious right of yore is that the leadership -- and especially the money boys at Tea Party Express -- has fixed the messaging firmly on low taxes and small government. But it’s never been a movement of libertarians.