As The Hill’s A.B. Stoddard reported here last week, the Tea Party has successfully moved the political center to the right in this primary season. Today, The Wall Street Journal follows up in a front-page story, “Tea Party Movement Gathers Strength.”

WSJ: “The tea party has emerged as a potent force in American politics and a center of gravity within the Republican Party, with a large majority of Republicans showing an affinity for the movement that has repeatedly bucked the GOP leadership this year, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll has found.”

The findings show how the Tea Party movement has grown over the past two years, from a loose confederation of activist groups into a marquee brand with the GOP that has upended a number of primaries in recent months. A “substantial chunk of the Republican Party is rebranding themselves,” said Bill McInturff, who conducted the survey with Democratic pollster Peter Hart. The Tea Party is now supported by a third of the country in some polls, the
Journal reports.

But if this new energy is going to amount to a repeat of the anti-government, “small-government” rant, it will be in like the dust and gone with the wind in a few years. There is here and now potential for original thinking and systemic change. And there will need to be new people in top leadership positions to bring in a new generation.

When some of these conservative old-schoolers talk about “small government,” they actually mean thin government. They mean the same kind of vast and centralized governance we have today, with one or two departments thrown out. Maybe you have to be from Texas, with its deep sense of place. Or Alaska. Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a fiscal conservative, has little regard for the approach of the Obama administration, calling it “one of the great Frankenstein experimentations in American history. We've seen that movie before. It was from 1932 to 1940," as he said in a
Wall Street Journal interview in late August 2009. As opposed to "vanilla . . . one-size-fits-all" government, Perry’s "goal is to have states compete against each other. I don't want to look like Connecticut, no offense, I don't want to look like Oklahoma, I don't want to look like California. I want to be uniquely Texas. And that's not to diss anybody else."

That gets to the essence of small government as the Tea Party first articulated it. In late December 2009, it was claimed here on the Pundits Blog that the Tea Party would be a force to be reckoned with and Rick Perry would rise with it. Still goes.

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