The sad truth is, there’s not a big enough constituency for reducing spending. It’s possible that the bond market will induce some responsibility — we may be seeing the first signs of that — but not enough voters, and even fewer politicians, care. Even if the GOP had 60 seats in the Senate, it’s very doubtful that would translate into 60 votes to cut spending significantly.

As I’ve written before, I’d like to see a 5% across the board cut on spending, followed by a multiyear hard freeze. But the chances of that are zero. And even if Trump is turning out to be more conservative (and more libertarian!) than I expected, he never pretended to be a big spending cutter. And even if he were, there would be bipartisan resistance in Congress.

I don’t have a solution. Any ideas out there?

Related: The Tea Party Is Dead. Long Live The Tea Party.

In 2010 at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, I witnessed and heard some of these debates first hand. Everyone was walking around with pocket Constitutions, reading and trying to understand the relevance of that document. It doesn’t matter if the arguments weren’t on point or legally “correct.” What mattered was that ordinary people had taken a keen interest in preserving the spirit of the Constitution and the essence of our founding principles that are “self-evident” in that document at a time it has been under relentless attack.

In a word, it was awesome.

This side of the tea parties was never widely reported on by the media, for very good reasons. The left hates getting into a discussion about what the Constitution says because they can’t defend most of their ideas. Despite the fact that the founders wrote the constitution so that basically anyone who could read could understand it, the left keeps insisting the Constitution says things that it doesn’t.

Any clever lawyer and willing judge can twist the meaning of the Constitution so that it says anything they want it to say to accomplish any end they wish to accomplish. So the budget deal may have killed fiscal sanity in Washington and — perhaps — the tea party’s political power to some extent. And the GOP may have co-opted most of the larger tea party groups to do the party’s bidding.

What remains of the tea party is, to my mind, the best part. The desire of ordinary people to govern themselves, to take personal responsibility for their own lives, and to try to do something about the denigration and increasing irrelevance of the Constitution.

Don’t give up the ship.