In his discussion of the war between conservative and moderate Republicans David Freddoso (the editor of Conservative Intelligence) is squarely on the side of the conservatives. However, he warns about a new trend:

A new trend becoming almost alarmingly mainstream among conservative activists is to find RINO-ism in every shadow. The football equivalent would be to characterize anything short of a pick-six on every play as a defensive failure. As we have noted here previously, this is a paranoid reaction to bad Republican behavior in the Bush years. The fact that the conservative base can be sold on this idea at all is the result of establishment sins as much as it is the fault of the carnival barkers currently selling it.

Ironically, that sort of hysteria can be found among certain Tea Party supporters even towards other Tea Party supporters. I said “ironically” because I have heard socially conservative Tea Party people denounce libertarians as RINOs or even as “liberals” because of their positions on social issues. They forget that the Tea Party is not a litmus test on social issues and never has been. It began as a populist libertarian movement:

Is the Tea Party movement a direct result of the Libertarian movement?  As we pondered this question, we also wanted to know when and where the two groups intersected.  We started with an informal survey.  We asked several people the following question: when do you think the Tea Party movement began?  They answered: when Rick Santelli ranted on the floor of the Merc in Chicago in February, 2009.

But our research into the history of the Tea Party took us back to 2004, to its first inklings as an organized force for rousing ordinary citizens to fight back against big government.  In that year, Libertarian David Koch founded Americans for Prosperity, a nonprofit political advocacy group set up to educate the public on the principles of free markets.

Even though the term “Tea Party” was not used then, Koch’s vision of “a mass movement, a state-based one, but national in scope, of hundreds of thousands of American citizens from all walks of life standing up and fighting for the economic freedoms” pretty much describes the movement we see today.

In 2007, Libertarian Congressman Ron Paul was running for the nomination to the Republican ticket for president, and he staged a “money bomb” on December 16, the anniversary of the first Tea Party in Boston, which netted him $5.2 million — mostly from small donors.  A month before that, he got a record $4.3 million from another money bomb.

Read it all.

What I like about the Tea Party movement is that from day one it has been a coalition of people who do not have to agree and do not agree on social issues, but come together along certain Tea Party principles, which are usually stated thusly:

Fiscal Responsibility, Constitutionally Limited Government, and Free Markets

As to what accounts for this weird, paranoid behavior that Freddoso describes, once again I think it is an example of hyper-escalated political rhetoric of the sort I have described here:, single-issue activists often associate with — and tend to exclusively surround themselves with — other like-minded, single-issue activists. The result is what many call an echo chamber — or “the choir.” But I think “echo chamber” and “choir” are less than accurate terms, because the implication is that people are simply getting together and agreeing with each other in groups. When group dynamics are factored into single issue fanaticism, a lot more happens than mere group agreement. Because people are naturally competitive, many activists want to prove to the group that they are not only devoted to the cause, butmore devoted than the others. This leads to extreme hyperbole, and the taking of positions which normal people would consider laughable.

Be nice if I could do a better job of laughing it off.