Before I start this discussion I want to make it known that I realize a large minority of Tea Partiers are Ayn Rand-style Libertarians, but, it appears as if the majority are affiliated with the xtian right.
It seems like most of the Tea Party politicians and/or canidates like Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, Mike Huckabee, Christine O'Donnell, etc. want a much closer relationship between church and state. Already the Tea Party has moved in on women's rights; in Georgia one politician wants to pass a law that would make miscarriages essentially illegal, and South Dakota and Nebraska want laws that would redefine rape. And here in northeast Florida a few religious groups are pushing to come into classes to teach creationism.
How will the Tea Party/Christian Right further alter US politics if they continue to hold power?
Their strategies go much further than that. Walker of WI has specifically targeted a law with an attempt to overturn it. This law requires insurance companies to include contriception in insurance policies. He wants to overturn it. A similar pattern is emerging in other states. What has happened over the last 30 years is that corporate/business interests (that want to end Unions and worker's rights of all kinds) have merged with religious concervatives that can "bunch" thier "flock" at election time. The corporate/business cabal isn't particularly religious but they can see the utility of joining with those that are. The are very organized and well networked and they can rally the "base" at a moment's notice. I assure you, they will take this as far as they can-- systematically breaking the middle-class and undermining public education at all levels (they are now targeting higher education) in order to control the message.
But are these politians/groups backed by the Tea Party? I listen to right-wing (including one Libertarian, Boortz) radio and all I ever hear is that the Tea Party is only interested in FISCAL issues, not social. Even some atheists can try to hi-jack a group by trying to convince atheists to be more communist (or another issue, like shying away from the term 'atheist' and trying to make 'naturalist' or 'sceptic' our new name).
Even in the Christian groups, there are fights for control, one group maybe wanting all of the others to forgo tv and to burn all of thier modern music.
Marcy Everest has this nailed down. I recently moved to Massachusetts from a rural, primarily Southern Baptist, area in Florida. The churches there push Republican/tea bagger candidates from the pulpit, and the congregations mindlessly follow. When you question them on their positions, they cannot articulate them. This is the only "trickle down" we will ever see. If you enter a Walmart there wearing a Bad Religion t shirt (a rock band), you are risking life and limb. Tonya, Boortz calls himself a libertarian, but is not even close. If he espoused libertarian principles on the air, his show would last a week. He is a republican/tea bagger. Do not listen to what these people say on the radio shows or Fox Blues Channel, instead watch what the politicians they represent actually do instead. These people are coming after anyone that is not white, christian and male. That includes all of us and we better be active in our communities.
The question is, what are we going to do about all this? Polling shows a huge gap between what the majority wants and the bills floating around in Congress, so there is obviously room for improvement in congressional adherence to constituents' wishes--much of the really scary stuff is not supported by most voters. But how many times a year does the average voter contact their reps? The average is probably point-zero-something. So zealots (very vocal) and corporations (hired lobbyists) get disproportionate attention. We have the numbers to vote the bums out but we're not overseeing our employees--no wonder the production line has broken down. I think one of the most important things is to find unhappy voters like us and provide practical ways to identify and track bad bills, and to WRITE good bills (yeah, we get to do that--you can bet Goldman-Sachs drafts bills), and get the appropriate information to our reps, early and often. A good start is becoming familiar with the tracking capabilities at http://thomas.loc.gov/
The right just uses religion to keep reigns on their well-meaning but IDIOTIC base that really doesn't know a thing about the God they worship. These people tout Jesus as a way to relate to the little people, but its obvious to anyone that is even slightly familiar with the Bible that, for the most part, Conservative principles are antithetical to Christianity. Republicans are anti-welfare; the Bible says "The last shall be first and the first shall be last." Their pro-corporations and fight tooth and nail for tax cuts to rich people; "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of Heaven (Mark 10:25)." Republicans are extremely anti-gay; Jesus didn't say a word about homosexuality.
Don't get me wrong, some Conservative views are based on Christian principle. Conservatives have historically opposed suffrage for women; "I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over a man, but to be in silence (1 Timothy 2:12)." They have historically supported segregation and slavery, which there are many examples of in the Bible. I could go on, but my fingers would begin to bleed before I could possibly finish.
Sorry, *They're pro-corporations... I feel like a retard now.