Since arriving on the political scene last year in the mid-term elections to the rousing support of many Americans, the Tea Party has shown to be more talk and distraction than beneficial action.
Democrats don't seem to know what to do with them.
Former White House advisor David Axelrod went so far Sunday, for example, as pinning responsibility for the recent U.S. debt rating downgrade from Standard & Poor on the Tea Party.
Axelrod accused Congressional Tea Party members of "brinkmanship" during debt ceiling negotiations that "brought us to the brink of a default" and the resulting downgrade as S&P notes Washington's current unstable political environment as one of the reasons for downgrade.
Many Republicans don't know what to do with Tea Party members either, even though they are aligned with the Republican party.
When Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner tried to cut a deal with President Barack Obama and the Democrats during the debt talks, he went back to his caucus to find something akin to an angry hornets nest.
Bring Forth a Plan
Washington has struggled with growing political gridlock in recent years, but it's reached an epidemic high with the arrival of the Tea Party. Where before two was company in Washington, three has now become a crowd.
It's not that the Tea Party leaders don't talk a good game. That's why many Americans sent them to Washington in the first place. Many of us are weary of a big, bloated government that lists in the night like an over-staffed ship without enough customers and no clear destination in sight.
But we want something more than talk and malcontent in Washington.
Take presidential candidate Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) as one example. The Tea Party House member has been boasting in ads about how she voted against the debt ceiling bill that ultimately passed, yet she's been ineffective to date at bringing forth a comprehensive plan as to how it should be done differently.
Mostly, it's been about saying what is wrong. We all know there's plenty wrong on all sides of the political equation.
But at this testy moment in America's history, we need strong and clear solutions, and leaders who can build consensus for those solutions.
Most of us want the budget deficit repaired, and we want America to rely on its people rather than the other way around. When the Tea Party talks, it seems to want the same thing.
But so far, getting beyond the talk has been a problem.
Passionate Tea Party patriots will jump in attack for such a claim, but this does not come from a liberal position as they will claim. Again, I'm all for smaller government and the eradication of the budget deficit.
But I've tried to explore the Tea Party more closely, through interviews with local leaders and other research and to date I've had trouble getting beyond the broad, vague talk.
Leaders Need to Broker Change
The problem is that successful political leaders in Washington historically are effective brokers of change. To fix the budget deficit, and to shrink government, Tea Party leaders can't be contentious all the time. They have to give, in order to get -- or they cause stagnation, and they cause the political process to stall.
Many voters revealed in the mid-term elections they agreed in many respects with the core, broad Tea Party ideals related to the size and function of government. But what the Tea Party seems slow in figuring out is that only fully-fleshed legitimate plans combined with consensus building will get anything done in Washington.
Until or unless that happens, the Tea Party won't contribute to Washington politics beyond distraction.