Does the tea party have staying power?

Still in its infancy, the tea party is often described as a coming together of like-minded Americans working in close coordination. In reality, it is more like a collision, a mash-up of disparate groups with differing priorities – some large, some small, most anger-fed and all with an ambition to overthrow the establishment to one degree or another. Some tea party groups are defiantly independent and take aim at Republicans as well as Democrats. Others seem more like offshoots of the Republican Party. The movement’s competing missions overlap and some of its leaders – such as there are any – clash and distrust one another…

It isn’t at all certain that the movement will be able to deploy with the same effect for the November general elections, when many moderate voters will be turning out – including those turned off by the tea party. But in the weeks ahead, tea partiers will be out in force, operating phone banks, raising money, knocking on doors – and looking ahead, past 2010 to 2012, when they hope to be the loudest voice in deciding who will run against Obama.

“Right now, we all have a common goal, all the different groups, the large groups, the local groups – and that is to prevent our country from continuing down this path of big spending and large government,” said Przybylski, in Bucks County. “We’ve all had our rough moments, but we’re all working together, and I think it’s wonderful. We have proven as a movement that we can get people elected who stand with our principles. We’re not going to go asleep at the wheel again.”