Fault them if you will as primitivist monomaniacs. Question whether they are sincere enough to surrender their own Social Security and Medicare as well as everyone else’s. But many tea party-affiliated members are true believers who have a long memory of Republican betrayal as well as enmity toward the Democrats. They know that despite the “Reagan revolution” three decades ago government has only grown bigger; that the various eruptions of conservative rebellion since the Reagan era, including the Gingrich-led takeover of the House in 1994, each amounted to little more than one step forward, two steps back. (Remember David Stockman and The “Triumph of Politics”?) They know that George W. Bush blew the budget out entirely, loading up the deficit with two wars, tax cuts and Medicare spending without paying for them. …

A 2006 study by the Federal Reserve of St. Louis showed only small growth from 1792 until World War II (with a spike during WWI), but then a relentless steady rise since a brief fall-off in war spending in the late 1940s. By 2004, the federal government was spending $7,100 per capita, nearly 55 times more than was spent per capita in the 1910s, the Fed said.

Sorry, but I think the drama is far from over. The rebellion against the size of government is a true populist movement, and it’s not going away. The debt limit is still the biggest card the tea party has. They’re going to use it.