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A tea party message in Patriot Act defeat: We're about more than taxes

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"Anybody who listened to tea party people around the country has no excuse for being surprised that tea party Republicans voted against" the Patriot Act, says Charles Franklin, a political scientist at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. "How it will now play out is a little bit unclear, but the budget, the debt extension, the South Korean trade agreement might be other issues, and also where these kinds of liberty issues come up where liberty-oriented conservatives don't see it as a political peg but they really do oppose government intrusion into private lives."

Strange bedfellows

The failure of the two-thirds vote – with 26 Republicans joining 122 Democrats to vote against it – fractured GOP unity on a key national-security issue and put a faction of the conservative House in line with liberals like Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D) of Ohio, who urged the tea party movement to stay true to its ideals by defeating laws like the Patriot Act that give government the "deepest reach into our everyday lives."

"This was the first test of the vote-counting abilities of the House GOP leadership. And either they knew this was going to go down and wanted to make a point, or they were surprised, which means their job in keeping their caucus in line is going to be as tough as the so-called 'Conventional Wisdom' crowd has been predicting," writes NBC News' First Read blog.

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