The Tea Party's Moment

This is their moment; this will define their movement — and it all goes down in just a few hours: Tea Partiers are the real deal or just real drama.

It's their chance to prove they're more than manufactured rage, they're just rage, period. Their chance to show those who doubt them will rue the day they laughed at them — that they're not about kicking Astroturf, but kicking ass.

Key primaries testing incumbents in Pennsylvania and Arkansas as well as the power of their backing in Kentucky could decide whether Tea Partiers are a force or a fad. I suspect the former; I very much doubt the latter.

Because as I said first covering this phenomenon before it was widely known years ago, Tea Partiers aren't about party, but principle — the simple principle of government getting too big and spending getting too much; about bailing out on Republicans who bail out as much as Democrats.

A bipartisan rage defined not just by who is spending, but who is spent.

To be sure, Tea Partiers are a diverse bunch — to some a quirky bunch. A hodge-podge army of disgruntled seniors, disenchanted housewives and dislocated workers whose message to Washington is as simple as their ranks are diverse.

"You are spending us into oblivion and now we'd like to do the same to your career."

I saw it up close when I first met them in Sacramento more than a year ago and again in Atlanta a little more than two months ago.

They are real, they are mad and on Tuesday, I suspect they'll remind the world they are very much here to stay.

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