There is a strong libertarian streak to the Tea Party crowd. In some recent elections where they have had an impact, such as the election of Ron Brown to the late Ted Kennedy's seat, the TPs held their noses as they voted for a nonlibertarian, moderate Republican in order to bump off one of them socialist Democrats. But TPs scored a big coup when they shot down the establishment Republican primary candidate for a Kentucky Senate seat and elected a full blown libertarian, Rand Paul, son of the equally fervent liberty ideologue Ron Paul. And a couple of days later Rachel Maddow put a great big Type-93 super torpedo into the ship that is libertarianism, the Tea Party, and Paul's candidacy by simply and repeatedly asking the latter whether or not he thinks it should be illegal for businesses to discriminate on the basis of race, religion, sex and so forth Paul had announced his candidacy on her show awhile back and had no idea tht he was sailing into such dangerous waters. It was fun in that cringy, squirmy way to watch the supposedly principled Paul devolve into the run of the mill politician who can taste the power if only he can get elected weave and dodge Maddow's question like he was a ship chasing salvos without actually answering with the plain truth.
Libertarianism manages to be both extremely conservative, extremely liberal, and solidly centrist all at the same time. This is achieved by running a single principle -- individual liberty -- into the ground of real world practicality. Actually libertarians are not really for total liberty, that's called anarchy in which government does not exist. But libertarians think that although government and regulations called laws are a necessary evil mainly to prevent basic criminal activities and slavery, as well as provide the basis for property rights and title recording -- they should and must be very, very minimalist. Socialism is -- with the exception of the military an intolerable moral evil. Also beyond the pale are government regulations of individual and mercantile activity. Taking a person's wealth via taxes upon penalty of the law beyond the very lowest amount needed to run a civilization is another ethical evil. It is all about personal responsibility, backed by private charity. In Libertarian World the main determinant of societal results is Darwinian selection of the free market as determined by the profit motive. Many libertarians are religious, usually in the Christian context which is rather odd in that the New Testament goes to lengths to describe the ideal Christian society as so socialist that a married couple that fails to turn over their property to the church is executed by God (it's in Acts). It is also ironic and rather inconsistent that the main opponents to Darwinian science are socioeconomic Darwinists. (And it is a major public education failure of progressives to better expose and exploit the hypocrisy of these amazing contradictions.) However a substantial portion of libertarians are god skeptics. Most of all the uberlibertarian Ayn Rand who has become an economic goddess to many theocons including Glen Beck, she was as hard core atheist as one can get.
By the way, lots of people call themselves libertarians including I see Muslim apostate and atheist Ayaan Hirsi Ali on Real Time With Bill Maher as I write part of this -- who are not even close to meeting the definition of the term. If you think it is a good thing for government to intervene in a major way in personal or business affairs in a few regards -- such as preventing abortions, or regulating Wall Street, or preventing bigotry in private enterprise -- but not in most others, then you are not the libertarian you think you are. You are cherry picking your issues. Anybody can do that. It's like someone who endorses a degree of capitalism calling themselves a communist. Here are the labeling rules. If you are against the government interfering in personal and cultural affairs in any manner but think that state involvement in economic matters should be extensive then you can call yourself a SOCIAL libertarian. If on the other hand you think the government should keep hands off our financial liberties but want it to crack down on the culture then you qualify as an ECONOMIC libertarian. But only if you want the state pretty much entirely out of both spheres are you a real LIBERTARIAN.
The intention of this entertaining to write piece is to give those who oppose the Tea Party movement a whole lot information they can deploy against the cause. In the process those who do not know all that much about the ideology can get a much better sense of what America would be like if full blown libertarianism becomes the American paradigm which it won't as I explain later. Please note I am not selecting items in order to show libertarians in a consistently bad light. Heck, I as a semi-social libertarian and economic progressive favor some of the below ideas. But only some. So here we go.