The largely rural landowners and wealthy families in the South who currently dominate Southern politics fear the advance of large urban centers of the type like Atlanta which voted overwhelmingly for Obama in 2008. Their reaction to this has been to become more shrill about social issues to maintain their political and economic power.
The "southern" fundamentalism that aids and abets the mostly southern radical right-wing politics, however, is most recently exported from California. There the most significant cultural driver causing its growth has, in my opinion, been the loss of political and demographic dominance of Caucasians over the last two generations. The resulting fear of loss of dominance has resulted in the dogmatic fundamentalist protestant religions. They have been spread nation-wide through the "christian" media empires.
Both of these groups are in political decline so they are redoubling their efforts to take control of the power center - the government (the only institution we allow to legitimately gain power through violence) - in order to halt the decline.
Did I mention the anti-union big businesses who are riding on this cultural change effort? They see the opportunity to roll back the unionization of America since the Great Depression so they are funding the conservative groups and also they and some very wealthy American families (DeVoss, Koch brothers, Coors, Scaife, Prince, Rupert Murdoch, etc.) are funding the right-wing "think tanks" to create and spread right-wing propaganda to legitimize the conservative movement.
It is interesting how the large multinational corporations like the Oil Companies and WalMart are using their international money movements to take advantage of the least regulatory nations so that they maintain oligopoly or monopoly profits to spend in more regulatory nations to delegitimize regulations that maintain the middle classes there. They also use the American military to control international trade in their benefit. This latter they are trying to force the American middle class to pay for through taxes the wealthy are legally allowed to avoid.
The tea party itself is now in decline, so the right-wingers used their access to FOX and to large sums of money to demonize the government for the economic disaster they themselves caused when Bush and the Republican right-wing were in power. But their decline is now proceeding more rapidly as the public wakes up to their true agenda. So the right wingers are now desperate to maintain what power they have in state governments and to try to gain control of the electorate.
The current economic mess is the result of the American conservative desperation. The tea partiers can't negotiate any "fair" or legitimate agreement with the Democrats because they are so far out on the limb that if they do they have lost everything. After such a negotiation their decline will only speed up.
To restate that, Boehner loses his job and the tea party loses everything if they actually resolve this crisis. But they are all that exists in the Republican Party now. Show me the elder statesmen Republicans who can step in and say "Enough!" and stop the insanity. Without such an intervention it is my opinion that Boehner and the tea party are going to take down the economy or force Obama to take extra-Constitutional steps to protect the security of the nation.
Addendum 4:05 PM CDT
This is from Steve Benen:
Consider this George Will column from the other day:
The Tea Party can succeed in 16 months by helping elect a president who will not veto necessary reforms. To achieve that, however, Tea Partyers must not help the incumbent achieve his objectives in the debt-ceiling dispute.
One of those is to strike a splashy bargain involving big — but hypothetical and nonbinding — numbers. This would enable President Obama to run away from his record and run as a debt-reducing centrist.
Got that? The important thing isn’t to strike a compromise and prevent a disaster; the important thing is prevent Obama from claiming a political victory.
This is a striking mentality that makes progress next to impossible. But it’s a strain of thought that dominates Republican thinking right now — if Obama is going to look good by striking a bipartisan deal, the GOP priority must scuttle the deal, regardless of merit, to prevent Obama from looking good. As Ezra Klein noted yesterday, “[L]etting the president look like a dealmaker would potentially dim the GOP’s chances of retaking the White House in 2012…. And so Boehner walked.”