“Some of the things [tea partiers] seem to advocate go beyond the norm,” says Castle. “I have trouble distinguishing sometimes between the factions out there that are in this ultra-conservative mode. You know—be it the patriots, or this Tea Party Express, or the different factions of the Tea Party. I’ve seen advocacy for eliminating the Department of Education, for example.”…

“There are a lot of things that the federal government does that, you know, might not be explicitly in the Constitution per se,” says Castle. “There are a lot of things that the states do, too. And they’ve been doing it in some cases since the 18th century.” He shrugs. “I do suppose it is a good question to ask.”

***
Over his 17 complete years in the U.S. House of Representatives, Castle has voted the conservative position, as defined by the American Conservative Union, about 52 percent of the time. In 2009, ACU scored Castle at 56. So how did he get that rating from the group last year?

Castle opposed the Lilly Ledbetter pay act, which the ACU described as a “new Pandora’s Box for trial lawyers.” He voted for a January 2009 bill that would prevent the Treasury from spending the $350 billion that remained in the TARP program. He opposed the Obama stimulus. He voted against efforts to water down legislation barring federal funds to ACORN or other organizations that employ people who have been convicted of election-law violations. He voted to eliminate the earmark for the airport near Johnstown, Pa., named after Rep. John Murtha. He voted to cut discretionary government spending in the appropriations for the Departments of Housing and Transportation by 5 percent.

He supported an amendment to the health-care bill that would ban using taxpayer funds to provide abortion services, an interesting vote for a self-described pro-choice Republican. He voted against the health-care bill.

***
The GOP is a more natural ideological home for most tea partiers than is the other major party, but they also suspect many Republicans of committing pragmatism, if not selling out too easily to Beltway mores. They have a point.

On the other hand, sometimes you need a few “wets” to gain a majority and advance your own ideas. Ask Nancy Pelosi, who rode the victories of Rahm Emanuel’s hand-picked Blue Dog Democrats to the House Speakership in 2006 and then used them to pass 40 years of liberal dreams in this Congress…

Politics in our two-party system is about coalition building, and any successful party must stretch across many groups. Republicans will have to accommodate much of the tea party agenda if they hope to assemble a new majority and avoid third-party challenges. But tea partiers who want to restore proper Constitutional limits, rather than merely pad the ratings of talk radio, might recall William F. Buckley Jr.’s counsel that his policy was to vote for the most conservative candidate who could win.

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Via Tammy Bruce.