Where Does The Tea Party Go From Here? Even Farther Out On The Fringes?

CNN contributor John Avlon attended the Tea Party’s first convention Friday and Saturday in Nashville, Tennessee, and wrote an excellent article for CNN examining the Tea Party’s likely future. He is the author of “Wingnuts: How the Lunatic Fringe is Hijacking America.”

As the National Tea Party Convention concluded this weekend, it’s clear that the Tea Partiers are propelled by two competing claims — a principled commitment to fiscal conservatism and a serious case of Obama Derangement Syndrome.

The first group remains true to the roots of the movement as it emerged almost one year ago amid bailout backlash. They feel like modern Paul Reveres, warning their fellow citizens about the unsustainable nature of our government’s deficit spending and unprecedented debt.

They still have an important civic role to play in our national debate.

The second group reflects the overheated, hyperpartisanship that emerged over the August town halls and the 9/12 march on Washington.

Oddly enough, this group embraced the tactics of Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals and applied them to the conservative cause, with angry confrontation and street theater protests. They ascribe to Obama every sinister characteristic imaginable — often a secret plot to undermine our constitutional republic and put in a socialist, one-world government in its place.

This is the crowd that carries the signs comparing Obama to Hitler and communists, while proclaiming themselves patriots. Their extremism will ultimately lead the movement to self-destruct unless it is clearly repudiated.

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