The Tea Party Rewrites the Shutdown Narrative
Policy + Politics

The Tea Party Rewrites the Shutdown Narrative

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Ask members of the Tea Party if shutting down the government is a logical response to their inability to shut down Obamacare and you get a sermon – but not an answer. 

The Tea Party has a point to make – a point they feel a lot of people still aren’t getting.

“The majority of the American public has never been in favor of this [health care] legislation,” said Mark Meckler, co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, one of the largest Tea Party groups. “So the real question is: What do the Democrats think they’re accomplishing by essentially telling the broad segment of the American public that they don’t care what they think? What’s the end game of the Democrats in defying the will of the American public by passing this law in the first place?”


Those on the left – led by President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) – have “held onto this all this time. They’ve granted favors for their friends, for huge corporations and for labor unions, and they’re telling the rest of the American public to pound sand,” says Meckler. “So what is their end game?”

Often derided in liberal circles, the Tea Party in October 2013 has hardly given up the ghost since the grassroots movement first surfaced as a powerful political force in 2010, with a focus on limited government and reduced spending. Today, some 35 million Americans say they’re members of the Tea Party, according to the faithful – slightly lower than several years ago but still nothing to sneeze at. 

What baffles Tea Party members is how Democrats ignore the will of the people. Says Meckler, “Americans are moving more and more toward Tea Party positions and values, and away from Washington, D.C., yet those in Washington, D.C., and specifically the Democratic Party, are ignoring the will of the American people."


Meckler, who today runs Citizens for Self-Governance in California, asks, “So what is their end game? Is it complete subjugation? Is it absolute tyranny? Basically what they’re saying is, ‘We don’t care what you think. You didn’t want it when we passed it, you don’t love it now in larger numbers than ever before, and we’re willing to shut down the government to keep it even though you tell us you don’t want it.’”

Meckler shared other hardcore beliefs of Tea Party members as the nation moved toward a continued shutdown: 

Ted Cruz (R-TX) Is Not Our Leader
“Cruz reflects the sentiment not only of the Tea Party but of the greater portion of the American people right now about Obamacare. That’s great. We’re going to support him and cheer him on, and see that he represents what most Americans are thinking. The day that he doesn’t – then no. Politicians are supposed to reflect public opinion, not lead it.”

We’re Not Big Fans of Republicans, But They’ve Been Clear
“They don’t want a government shutdown. They offered up a bill that did not shut down the government. It funded every penny of government operations other than Obamacare.”

Follow the Money on Obamacare
“Who is Obamacare good for? That’s what we need to ask. It’s good for gigantic insurance companies. They’re claiming 30 million new customers – that’s a pretty good thing. And it’s good for the navigators, who are getting new contracts. It’s good for anybody who likes feeding off a huge government.”

Obamacare Lies Were Rampant
“They said our premiums would go down. Instead, for the vast majority of Americans, our premiums have gone up dramatically. Obama has essentially been forced to admit this by saying, ‘Oh, we’re seeing slower growth now.’ My own personal premiums have gone up in the past 18 months, from $1800 a month for a family of four in California to $2800 a month. And I’m hearing this from people all over the country – all over.”

Don’t Our Kids Have Enough Financial Burdens?
“This legislation forces young people to buy insurance, which, except for catastrophic coverage, they rationally don’t need. Haven’t we punished our kids enough? They're already facing the biggest debt and deficit in history, which they’ll be paying off for the rest of their lives and which they had nothing to do with creating. Now we’re putting more of a burden on them? I’m really struggling with this idea from the left that somehow it’s outrageous to expect the government to control its spending – but it’s not outrageous to expect that we should punish young people. The narrative is backwards.”

It Wasn’t the Supreme Court’s Job to Judge the Wisdom of Obamacare
“It’s the law of the land, yes. But should we just keep that law forever because the court says it’s constitutional? That’s absurd. That means we could never, ever, under any circumstances, be allowed to repeal any law – that’s a ridiculous straw-man argument. The Supreme Court itself has said it’s not their job to weigh in on the wisdom of policy.”