Today, we ask the question, are Tea Partiers libertarians?
The answer: not really. Let's start with gay rights. Tea Partiers are more likely than Republicans in general to oppose gay rights. You certainly don't see any of them leading the charge (or even following) on repeal of "don't ask, don't tell."
In fact, the Tea Partiers appear to be descended from the same people who opposed extension of civil rights to blacks; who opposed women's suffrage and later opposed the women's rights movement. Sarah Palin seems oblivious to the fact that she'd be nowhere if it weren't for the women who fought for equality for women in the political and economic spheres.
Some of the tea partiers also seem to question the First Amendment's anti-establishment clause for religion, arguing that the founders only intended to prohibit a national establishment of religion, but not state establishments of such. This is a popular line of argument from Utah's new senator, who comes from a state that would love to impose Mormonism on all its citizens (and ultimately, all of us).
Indeed, when it comes to religion, Tea Partiers seem to become much more of government activists. There seems little doubt that if they COULD, the WOULD impose a whole raft of right wing Christian moral strictures on the rest of us--their Taliban. They're certainly not shy about asking that public schools teach things the way they see it.
They do like to rant and rave about government regulation of businesses. God forbid that a gun dealer should have to adhere to some rationale standard of care in selling a dangerous product to the public. Or that an industry that pollutes the environment should have to include in the costs of its product the price of cleaning up.
The fact is that many industries in the U.S. have learned to welcome regulation (to a reasonable point) because it protects them from fly-by-night operators charging low prices for inferior products. You think GM has it bad now--suppose any Indian or Chinese auto manufacturer could bring some $2000 piece of crap dangerous as hell car into the U.S. market? Where would GM be then? The point is, many businesses benefit from a well-regulated market, and they have plenty of lobbyists and lawyers poring over every new regulation to make sure their voices are heard.
Would you really want to live somewhere with no zoning laws? And have someone open up a hog farm in your neighborhood, or put an auto repair shop next to your house without a question being asked?
Tea Partiers, then, are not true libertarians.