On the cusp of the 2010 elections, Tea Party activists described their movement as a check on a Republican Party that had betrayed its conservative principles.
“The beauty of the Tea Party movement is watching it hold Republicans accountable,” deceased publisher Andrew Breitbart told Reason.com at a “9/12 Tea Party Rally” in 2010. “These people are not going to stop holding their government and elected officials accountable, especially those that claim to represent their values.”
...But as 2012 approached, media figures like Breitbart began to call for compromise.
“None of these people is perfect,” he said of Romney in a February Buzzfeed interview.
“From my perspective, there are too many people holding the conservative movement to an impossible post-2009 Tea Party standard,” Breitbart said.
If anything distinguished the Tea Party from other political factions, it was their willingness to vote against unacceptable conservatives. When Republicans pull the lever for Mitt Romney on Tuesday, they’ll bring that brief tradition to an early end.