The Tea Party serves us much better as a valuable gadfly, forcing the two parties who can actually govern this country to recognize fiscal restraint and the limitations of government. Apparently, neither major political party is capable of keeping that message in mind.

As a paradigm of governnance, though, the Tea Party is inane. Their candidates promise both balanced budgets and tax cuts. Really? They have $1.3 trillion in spending cuts to offer? I’d like to see the list. I’d like to see how those spending cuts will be implemented without pushing our economy into a nuclear winter of a depression, leaving us yearning for 1930, or at least 2008.

Their candidates promise to return government to its proper constitutional boundaries. Really? As just one example, Alaskan Senate candidate Joe Miller says unemployment benefits are unconstitutional. Fair enough, but why stop there. The same reasoning renders most of our current government apparatus unconstitutional: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, student loans, housing programs, energy assistance programs, science funding, farm subsidies, food inspections, drug approvals, the space program, aid to education. So, just like “balance the budget and cut taxes,” this talk of proper constitutional boundaries leads to an absurdist model of governance.

I say, let’s take the sober message of the Tea Party — which I define to be, live within our means — and discard the actual Tea Party candidates. We don’t have time for this foolishness.