In THIS PROVOCATIVE LITTLE PIECE, the Booman Tribune offers a concise history of modern conservativism to frame the dilemma facing the Republican Party as so-called reformers push it ever farther to the right.
From 2003 to 2007, the Republicans controlled everything in Washington but they didn’t know what to do with the power. They funded the agencies of government much like a Democratic congress would have done (albeit, with much different priorities) and allowed budget deficits to rise to out of control levels. This wasn’t what conservative ideology called for. It was, in essence, a betrayal. But conservative ideology is not reality-based; it’s oppositionally-based. It has no governing philosophy, but, instead, a grouping of rationalizations for why federal governance is bad.
What’s going on with the Tea Partiers is that they are trying to force the GOP to take conservative ideology seriously and to have them act based on the implications of that ideology. And because that ideology sees the federal government as basically illegitimate, you are seeing calls to repeal amendments from the 14th (establishing birthright citizenship), the 16th (creating an income tax), the 17th (providing for direct elections of senators), and the 19th (establishing female suffrage). It’s also why you see opposition to Social Security and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which provided for desegregated public facilities. Some of this is simply based in racism, but the ideological component is arguably just as important.
Because of this anti-federal government ideology, the Republicans cannot govern the country without either violating their espoused principles or simply shutting the place down. You can’t shut down the government for any substantial period of time, so the Republicans will consistently violate their own principles once empowered in Congress.