In an excerpt from his new book, Fighting for Our Health, Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Richard Kirsch explains how supporters of health care reform turned the Tea Party’s own town hall tactics against them.
With Mitt Romney’s hold on the Republican nomination looking secure, the Tea Party will soon have to face the reality that despite pushing the Republican Party and its nominee to the right, they’ll wind up losing the fight in the end. This isn’t the first time. The Tea Party leapt to national prominence in August 2009, when its activists held angry and often ugly protests in town hall meetings held by Democratic members of Congress. But in the end, the biggest impact was to stiffen Republican resolve to refuse any compromises on health care while the legislation continued to make its way through Congress.
The public first got notice of the upcoming Tea Party storm in late July, when South Carolina’s Senator Jim DeMint warned that in August members of Congress would hear from “outraged” constituents. He promised that “Senators and Congressmen will come back in September afraid to vote against the American people… If we’re able to stop Obama on this it will be his Waterloo. It will break him.”