Is The Tea Party Back?
Supporters of President Obama’s health care reform law have been celebrating the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the individual mandate, the legislation’s core, since the decision came down last week. But this political victory could have at least one unintended consequence: the Tea Party, which has mostly lain dormant since the 2010 midterm elections, could very well use the decision as a rallying cry.
It isn’t surprising that the Tea Party would react so strongly against the Supreme Court’s support for Obamacare. After all, the movement was born out of opposition to the Affordable Care Act. Polling data from the Public Religion Research Institute shows that before the ruling came down, Tea Party members were more supportive of the Supreme Court overturning the health care reform law than any other political group, including Republicans.
Rep. Michele Bachmann, a Tea Party darling, was outside the Supreme Court after the decision came down, telling assembled activists that the fight was just beginning. Some Tea Party leaders have already announced their intention to focus more intensely on the 2012 race, with the goal of winning the Senate for the Republicans.
And according to Talking Points Memo, Tea Party organizers planned a large series of activities for Independence Day, with a focus on local protests. Reporter Evan McMorris-Santoro writes,
The tea party and its corporate backers say they want to leverage their base to identify voters and activate a get-out-the-vote army in the fall. The Supreme Court’s decision made that process much easier, tea partiers say.
During the Republican primary, one Tea Party candidate after the other (remember Herman Cain?) was defeated by Mitt Romney, who has always had an uncomfortable relationship with the Tea Party, partially because of his own version of the health care reform that is essentially the same as Obamacare. But now, it seems like Tea Party activists are refocusing their energy on state-level races. And although they may not do as much work to launch Mitt Romney to the White House, the prospect of a Republican-controlled Senate is equally — if not more — disturbing.
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