The end of relationships can get real ugly.

In the wake of a Rasmussen poll showing that only 8% of those questioned identified themselves as members of the “tea party”, I asked our group of San Diego citizen activists for their opinions of the cause.

Tim Daniel (aka Left Coast Rebel) thinks that the Tea Party activists no longer want to be associated with a movement that is painted as “rebranded Republicanism“.

The Tea Party is seen as an apparatus of the corrupt Republican Party now, versus a fledgling, spontaneous grassroots movement as it was perceived (and truly was) in 2008 up to 2010.

Many low- or medium-information voters and citizens likely also succumbed to the incessant drumbeat “tea party is racist” Democrat/media/leftist (one and the same) smear; but nevertheless if the public at large has bought into the meme that John Boehner (and the Republican party in general) is the face of the Tea Party, it’s no wonder that perception is in the basement.

Losses in several key senatorial battles, as well as President Obama’s re-election, disheartened many stalwarts in groups across the country. The Fiscal Cliff deal was the straw that broke the camel’s back for many of the “tea partiers,” who shared Professor Jacobson’s disdain for how the negotiations were handled when he wrote:

Their lack of conviction is my liberation theology. Liberation from the Republican leadership. Liberation from the Republican Party as it currently exists.

Shane Atwell, on the other hand, holds an entirely different view:

I wonder also whether the Tea Party had a lot of Republican participants who weren’t completely on board with the radical liberty, limited-government thing but liked the fact that the Tea Party was fighting Obama and counted on it helping the GOP win and then letting the GOP run the show after. When we didn’t bring them a win and furthermore didn’t step aside on issues of principle, they got disillusioned and angry.

I suggest the GOP left when they didn’t get what they wanted from Tea Partiers.

As a Democratic citizen activist, there is a lot of merit in that argument. I had several experiences with events being manipulated in an attempt to benefit the party.

As we look to the 2014 election cycle, I suspect more people will reembrace the love of smaller government and fiscal responsibility, and want to more than tweet about amount in their paychecks or joke about trillion dollar coins.

Yet, like Professor Jacobson, most of us who remain active recognize that creating a Third Party is probably a non-starter. A Left Coast Rebel comment addresses an alternative goal:

In my view, I’m not certain the Tea Party could pull off a political coup to become a viable third party, if Rand and Ron Paul couldn’t do it as Libertarians, or Ralph Nader with his Green Party. However, there is a very real need for something the Tea Party has to offer. I think that is what made them so dangerous to the liberals then, and scary now, because they are still here, and Not Dead yet!

I’m not entirely happy with the current finger-pointing after 11/6, as well as the marginalizing of certain Reps during the “Fiscal Cliff” negotiations by the Congress. It’s the same story of the entrenched GOP, grasping at going along to get along. The entire exercise of loading up the House of Reps. was to change the spending orgy by both parties. Evidently the Tea Party members misread what they could alter. Their effort was a successful grassroots effort to make changes in Washington. Maybe it is time to take a good look at the people currently steering the boat, which is rudderless, floating down Old Miss, with no one at the helm.

Indeed, in some breakups it is necessary to take a look at outside forces to figure out what went wrong.