Greg Forster argues that the Tea Party movement taps into the full social and cultural power of transcendent moral appeals in a way that social conservatives have never been able to do:
I expect social conservatives would generally agree that what’s most fundamentally wrong with our society is its abandonment of what might loosely be called a metaphysical view of the world. We have no sense that human life is shaped by structures of purpose, meaning and obligation that are independent of our own choices. This is the fundamental dividing line in debates over abortion, marriage, pornography, and all the other social issues. When you boil it down, the only battle that ultimately counts is between those who think you can decide the meaning of your own life, and those who think that the meaning of your life is not something you get to make up for yourself.
For most of the 20th century, economic conservatives were predominantly on the wrong side of that divide.