While I may quibble with Michael Barone about those “litmus tests” over the past twenty years, I agree with him about the “pivot” the Tea Party phenomenon could represent for the GOP:
The Republicans for the last two decades have been a party whose litmus tests have been cultural issues, especially abortion. The tea partiers have helped to change their focus to issues of government overreach and spending. That may be a helpful pivot, given the emergence of a millennial generation uncomfortable with crusading cultural conservatism.
In short, Tea Parties could help reshape the GOP in Ronald Reagan’s image, a party whose focus is reducing the size and scope of the federal government and championing freedom. And this focus on small government turns the party’s attention away from divisive social issues, making it easier for people from all walks of life, including gays, to rally to its defense — and help it stay on the offense against Democrats’ big government schemes.
Freedom is an idea which social conservative Christians as well as socially liberal gays can readily and warmly embrace.
The Barone piece, as is anything by that sage commentator, is well worth you time. So just read the whole thing!