So the whole defund Obamacare/debt-ceiling shutdown showdown has more or less come to an end. And it doesn’t appear at this point that Sen. Ted Cruz is going to do anything to slow down that process and neither will his fellow Tea Minority members in the House.

Yes, for a brief and glorious moment Ted Cruz ruled the United States, and the Congressional Tea Partiers held John Boehner’s bright orange cumquats in their hands, but that moment has passed.

And so it’s time for Cruz and company to return to doing what they do best: convince easily confused and frightened Republicans to hand over their cash.

The simple truth of the matter is none of this shutdown BS has anything to do with stopping Obamacare, and it has even less to do with the debate over the debt ceiling — Psst, there wasn’t one. This was nothing more than a campaign fundraiser for the Tea Party. 

Although the crisis has been averted — and the Tea Party has been embarrassed —  Cruz and company will find a way to spin all of this to their advantage. In the stories they will tell their supporters, the Reid-McConnell compromise is the surest sign yet that Washington is broken, that the Democrats are big-government pig troughers, and that the non-Tea Party GOP is complicit in each and every sin against the Republic — they are the true enemy.

And this is exactly what the Cruz, Mike Lee, and Rand Paul fan club want to hear. It’s what they write about in their diaries. It’s what they think about when they think about touching their promise ring parts. It’s what gives their lives meaning. 

Make no mistake, anyone who calls himself a member of the Tea Party is an outsider. They are the Shannen Doherty on the GOP Heather totem pole. They are the rubes and college dropouts and anti-union blue-collar serfs who have never been and never will be respected by establishment Republicans — who either succeeded through their own hard work or who had a helping hand from the GOP ancestors that came before them. While everyone else in the Republican Party is eating their piece of the pie, the Tea Minority is pissed off because all they have is a half-eaten Hostess Ding Dong — and they love Ding Dongs. 

But then South Carolina’s own Jim DeMint arrived to show them that they don’t have to suck the cream out of a stale Ding Dong anymore. They can suck the cream out of a whole box of fresh-from-the-factory Ding Dongs. But there was only one catch, the one-time head of the Senate Conservatives PAC, the current head of the Heritage Foundation, and the behind-the-scenes Wizard of Ugh at the Heritage Action PAC told them: They had to turn on their Republican brothers and sisters.

Of course, this wasn’t hard. Their envy was great. Their hatred strong. Their lust for the cream-filled center of a Ding Dong unquenchable. With former U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint leading the way, the men and women of the Tea Minority would become the majority power. They would elect candidates that would fundamentally change government. DeMint showed anti-establishment GOPers that the way to Congress is through the purse strings of the powerless, not corporate lobbying largesse.

And so, every time a Tea Partier politician curses Lindsey Graham’s name, another dollar is sent their way. Every time they say John Boehner is a cowardly compromiser, their campaign war chests receive a few more rupees. Every time they say that establishment Republicans are dragging our fair nation into the pits of despair, they pass Go and collect $200.

Unfortunately, attacking the GOP comes with a price, namely the public relations hell of the Republican Party. As a result, middle America’s brief flirtation with populist envy and little-man hate has lost its luster. The once-attractive Tea Party politics of RINO revolution now have all the sex appeal of a moldy collection of Victorian era smut or a worn-out prison fi-fi.

Of course, none of this means that Jim DeMint is going away. We should never underestimate that asshole again. He is still going to be orchestrating the Tea Party machine behind the scenes, and his followers will still be raising money from nullify-loving neo-confederates, blue-collar union bashers, and angry out-of-work rednecks who refuse to admit they can’t scrub a toilet without taking a breather and a shot of 5 Hour Energy, much less pick a single peach from a tree or drive a nail. They’re still out there, and chances are, they’re angrier than ever. And for Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, and the rest of Jim DeMint’s PAC money posse, that means more money in their campaigns to become career politicians.

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