Five things conservatives should be wary of in the tea-party movement

2. A move away from social conservatism. Just as the rise of Christian conservatives in the late 1970s and 1980s profoundly changed the conservative movement, the Tea Party has the potential to change it once again, possibly making it more libertarian. While many Tea Partiers are full-spectrum conservatives, it’s fair to say that government spending and the failed economy are the galvanizing forces right now. As such, it’s fair to conclude that an influx of activists concerned primarily about fiscal issues might change the complexion of the conservative movement. This could be good or bad (depending on your views), but it is a phenomenon worth considering.

3. Anti-Intellectualism. Unlike liberalism, which began as a patchwork of disparate interest groups seeking power, conservatism began as a coherent intellectual philosophy. But in recent decades, conservatives have mocked “pointy-headed liberal intellectuals,” creating an impression that intelligence is almost something to be skeptical of. While I am certainly not advocating elitism, I would strongly encourage conservatives to reject populism. Conservative candidates who can eloquently advocate for conservative positions have a better chance of impacting the culture than do demagogues who cannot effectively communicate their philosophy to the masses.

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