For Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to say that the tea party’s days are numbered is to say that he has very little understanding of what the movement is all about.

Democrats continue to maintain that the outcome of the midterm elections, the distrust of the federal government and the president’s low approval numbers (the Tucson bump notwithstanding) are simply a function of a down economy. Nothing could be further from the truth. The tea party movement is a reaction to the mounting size and scope of the federal government and a growing threat to individual freedom.

Too often Democrats are looking for a magic wand to turn around public opinion, but getting rid of the tea party (hard as they might try) is not the answer. President Obama and Democrats ran as moderates and governed from the hard left. And the legislation they have left in their wake – bailouts, $700 billion TARP bill, $787 billion economic stimulus bill and, of course, the $1 trillion health care overhaul is wildly unpopular.

Even if Republicans are moderately successful in their efforts to rein in spending, reform entitlement programs and repeal elements of the health care law, there will still be plenty of government left – and there will surely be a need for Americans and legislators who are committed to limited government, individual rights and free-market principles.

Sorry, Sen. Reid. The tea party movement is here to stay.