I don't know if I wrote it down anywhere, but I predicted there would be a split in the Republican party soon after the end of the Bush Presidency. My theory went like this: "The Republicans have been holding all three branches of Congress, and they haven't fulfilled any of their major promises*. The heart of the Republican party will insist that they enforce their ideological beliefs, and the political wing will want to continue their lack of action on wedge issues."
In other words, I thought the Republicans would have to hash out their political beliefs. Are they loyal to their corporate wing, (yes), or are they loyal to the Christian Right? Can they actually produce any results on reducing the power of the government, or actually start protecting the rights of Americans? I was completely wrong. It looks like the Republicans will be able to go through another cycle without deciding what they are.
The Tea Party isn't capable of debate because it has no positions. They have talking points, but "Fix the economy, lower taxes, and balance the budget" isn't a position, it's a wish list. Of those three, the government can do one at any given time, maybe two if they're lucky. The Tea Party's "position" is just being really really against the Democratic Party. They embody a sort of Stalin-esque unwillingness to compromise or agree with the enemy. If the Republicans retake a significant fraction of the government**, the Tea Party will cease to be.
*Ending abortion, prayer in school, ending gay marriage, etc.
** I'll bet that won't happen in the next 3 years