I can't say that I'm surprised that it's dead. As soon as it got involved with the Republican Party, it sowed the seeds of its own destruction. But perhaps I shouldn't say "it," precisely because, by its nature, there wasn't an "it." Rather the Tea Party was tens of thousands of people at the grassroots level who were organizing to have some effect at the national policy level. (And, as Kibbe points out, they did have some good effects.)
I remember shortly after the 2010 Congressional elections, when the Tea Party's visible power was at its peak, given that dozens of Republicans had been elected to Congress based on their support of the Tea Party. I was in a radio interview with a conservative interviewer who asked me how I thought the incoming new Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, might be thinking about things. I answered that Boehner is probably wondering how the heck he's going to deal with these new Tea Party members who don't want to settle for business as usual. Boy, was I on target!
So what happens next? It's hard to say. But just because the Tea Party is dead, that doesn't mean that there can't be some new organizational vehicle that will go after Republican and Democrat alike.
How about this as the slogan, drawn on how Brits reacted when the king had died:
The Tea Party is dead; long live the Tea Party.
Two additional thoughts:
1.There is one issue on which I want to challenge Matt. He writes, "We demanded that Washington politicians stop spending our money like it was theirs." If they spent money as if it was theirs, I would have loved the result. They never would have been so wasteful. Look how well organized Obama's internet technology was when he and the Democrats were spending their own money on it for the 2012 campaign, compared to how badly organized, and how much more expensive, the technology was for signing up for Obamacare. The problem is that the politicians spend the money as if it isn't theirs.
2. About Republicans, Rand Paul put it well in his one-man fight on Thursday night:
"When the Democrats are in power, Republicans appear to be the conservative party. But when Republicans are in power, it seems there is no conservative party."