There are a lot of thumbsuckers about the Tea Party Convention and “what it all means,” but via Digby, the only thing you have to read to understand what “the movement” is all about is this.

In a bid to advance the tea party movement from holding rallies to holding office, the leaders of the anti-establishment groups announced a new political organization Friday that they say will “endorse, support and elect” conservatives across the country.

Mark Skoda, chairman of The Memphis TEA Party, made the announcement at a news conference in the middle of the National Tea Party Convention in Nashville. Though he said the group — Ensuring Liberty Corporation and an affiliated political action committee — is “distinct and separate” from other parts of the tea party movement, including convention organizer Tea Party Nation, the announcement was the closest thing so far to a national organizing strategy for the upcoming 2010 midterm elections [...]

The announcement came with an official platform that could help define what the multi-faceted tea party movement stands for and expects from the candidates it supports. The group’s leaders plan to support candidates who stand for a set of “First Principles.”

Those principles are: fiscal responsibility, lower taxes, less government, states’ rights and national security. Prospective political candidates will be expected to support the Republican National Committee platform. If a particular candidate meets the proposed criteria he or she would be eligible for fundraising and grassroots support.

Once elected to office, members would be expected to join a congressional caucus of “like-minded representatives” who attend regular meetings and are held accountable for the votes they cast. Those who stray from the tea party path would risk losing the new organization’s support and a possible re-election challenge.

The tea party movement is nothing more than your standard-issue Republican Party apparat, which conservatives are attracted to because it allows them to stay distant from the persistent stigma of the GOP while basically doing everything an RNC volunteer would do. It’s not a third-party force in politics, or some new conception of a constituency looking for a better way. They’re loyal Republicans supporting the Republican Party platform. And when that Republican Party, should it return to power, balloons deficits and starts unnecessary wars and soaks up Wall Street cash and defends their claim to substantial portions of the federal Treasury and does all the other things that turned off the country the last time, the tea party will conveniently forget to notice.

I don’t begrudge the GOP their use of a fake independent entity; it’s actually a stroke of genius. But, “political candidates will be expected to support the Republican National Committee platform” kind of seals it, no?