The tea party faces its ultimate test in 2016

But 2016 is significantly different, because the wave of Tea Party candidates who started getting elected in 2010 have now achieved the political ripeness to run for higher office.

In 2012, Romney was able to capture the nomination despite his liberal governing record and glaring deficiencies as a candidate simply because no credible alternative emerged. This time around, the establishment favorite, Jeb Bush, faces much stiffer competition against candidates who could legitimately claim to be more viable in a general election against Hillary Clinton…

If Republicans choose a legacy candidate such as Bush, or a champion of big government such as John Kasich, it would be a fatal blow to the Tea Party. It would mean that whatever the influence the movement has or had, it could never hope to break the highest glass ceiling.

It would mean that when push came to shove, the Tea Party couldn’t shake up the presidential nominating process that has punished conservatives for decades with lackluster candidates including Romney, John McCain and Bob Dole.