11.05.2010 0

The Tea Party Movement Boosted Republicans in 2010

There is no question that the tea party movement has dramatically contributed to the Republican takeover of the House of Representatives and narrowing the margin in the Senate. In addition to providing boosted turnout — it helped raise turnout to an estimated 41.5 percent (some 90 million) — since early 2009, the tea parties and other citizen activists have helped to dramatically shape the debate toward limiting the size and scope of government.

In fact, the American people set the agenda in the midterms. Their staunch opposition to the failed $812 “stimulus”, ObamaCare, the carbon cap-and-tax, bailouts, and government takeovers emboldened, empowered, and encouraged Republicans on Capitol Hill to take strong a stand on their behalf.

Whoever is saying the tea parties were somehow a hindrance to the GOP in 2010 need to get their heads examined. Republicans in the House picked up the most seats of either party since 1948. To argue the tea parties were inconsequential, or an impediment, one has to maintain that such a turnaround in the fortunes of Republicans was somehow inevitable.

It was not.

Americans for Limited Government President Bill Wilson recently wrote that Republican opposition to the Obama statist agenda “gave the American people confidence that they had representation — that they had a voice.” That was a critical development. Republicans were extremely unpopular when they were completely driven out of power in 2008.

Nor was there any guarantee after Obama was elected that the GOP would even unite against his agenda. When they did, that was when the American people responded.

So far, for House Republican Leader John Boehner, the mandate for Republicans to govern is a two-way street. “Our pledge is to listen to the American people, and to focus on their priorities, and that’s exactly what we’re going to do,” he said at a joint press conference with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour.

Boehner defined what he said were “the people’s priorities: creating jobs, cutting spending, and reforming the way Congress does its business.”

“It’s not just what the American people are demanding, it’s what they are expecting from us,” Boehner added. “The real question now is this: Are we going to listen to the American people?”

Wilson called the outcome of the election “decisive,” adding that “The American people have spoken, and because of their efforts, House Republicans and a growing number of Senate Republicans have been offered a second chance to bring the nation’s fiscal house into order.”

“But the work is not over with a mere election,” Wilson added. “Now, the American people must hold the new Congress accountable for their pledges to pay down the debt, repeal ObamaCare, create jobs, and end the bailouts once and for all.”

Speaking to Newsweek, ALG Research Director Don Todd said, “The heavy lifting will take place after the election. The public makes it feasible for Congress to do the things they want it to do.”

Wilson urged tea parties and other citizen activists “to continue their patriotic efforts rein in what has been an unaccountable government, and to hold them responsible for what happens next.”

Wilson said the early indications that Republicans are listening are “favorable,” and wrote that Boehner and McConnell “deserve praise for leading the opposition during the first two dark years of the Obama presidency.”

Certainly, it is clear that Republicans have been given a new lease on political life by the American people. This would not have been possible if Republicans were divided on Capitol Hill over whether to support the Obama agenda. That would have had the effect of sucking the energy out of the tea party movement, and would have wrecked their 2010 prospects.

At the press conference, McConnell said that Democrats “may have missed the message” of the elections. “I get the impression that they’re thinking — their view is that [Republicans] have not cooperated enough. I think what the American people were saying yesterday that they appreciated us saying ‘no’ to the things that the American people indicated they were not in favor of.”

McConnell put the pressure back on Democrats and the White House: “So, I think the group that should, hopefully, get the message out of yesterday’s elections is our friends on the other side of the aisle. We hope that they will pivot in a different direction.”

In a speech at the Heritage Foundation, McConnell got more specific about what he means, outlining his “primary legislative goals”: “repeal and replace the health spending bill; to end the bailouts; cut spending; and shrink the size and scope of government”.

McConnell spoke of the possibility of the Obama Administration changing course and working with Republicans, but was realistic about it: “whether or not the administration has a mid-course correction, Republicans have a plan for following through on the wishes of the American people.”

If they do indeed make good on their pledges to voters, Republicans will find that the tea party movement will be continue to be a valuable ally. Those activists who propelled them back into power will remain vital to shaping the debate and pressuring members of Congress to vote to limit government. If the American people continue to hold Congress accountable for their actions, 2010 will have just been the beginning.

Robert Romano is the Senior Editor of Americans for Limited Government.

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