It was President Barack Obama doing the victory dance after the Supreme Court upheld his health care legislation, but the ruling makes it more likely Mitt Romney will be standing in the winner’s circle in November.
The High Court’s Obamacare decision gave Romney something he’d been searching for since locking up the Republican presidential nomination: a match he can use to light a fire under the sluggish tea party movement.
Tea party voters delivered an historic win for Republicans in 2010, but they’ve not been nearly as energetic this cycle.
Lots of factors explain that. First, it is a movement fueled by anger, and anger is hard to sustain. It turns into disgust, and disgust is a less potent motivator.
Tea partiers expected better results after they tossed out a legion of Democratic congressmen two years ago. But too little has changed in Washington’s politics and policies. The spending continues, the deficits keep growing, and many of the new tea party congressmen have been co-opted by the Republican establishment, coerced into compromise.
Understandably, the tea party feels somewhat burned, its members are more cynical about their ability to force real change. Add to that their skepticism about Romney, who adopted his own version of Obamacare while governor of Massachusetts.
But it was Obama’s health care bill that ignited the tea party in the first place.
Followers saw it as the manifestation of their fears of an out-of-control government, the last straw on the camel’s back of freedom. Even though 2010 didn’t produce the repeal of Obamacare they’d demanded, they held out hope the Supreme Court would toss the bill.
With that hope now gone, the fear and anger are back.
Almost immediately following the court ruling, Twitter was burning up with tweets from conservatives declaring the only solution now is to elect Romney and a Republican Congress in November.
Even though Romney’s hands aren’t entirely clean on the issue, he’s the only candidate saying he’ll repeal Obamacare. That makes him a lot prettier to those who detest the law, and that’s a sizeable group.
Despite Democratic touting of provisions of the bill that are generally popular, nearly 55 percent of Americans want the entire law repealed, and more than two-thirds oppose the individual mandate.
In the first 24 hours after the ruling, Romney raised more than $4 million in campaign contributions, evidence that the Republican base has found the motivation missing in this presidential campaign.
They understand that electing Romney in November is their final chance to get rid of Obamacare before it turns the health care system and the economy inside out.
The court ruling was like tipping over a beehive, and turns this election into a referendum on Obamacare.
And that surely will get the tea pot boiling again.
Follow Nolan Finley at detroitnews.com/finley, on Twitter at nolanfinleydn, on Facebook at nolanfinleydetnews and watch him at 7:30 p.m. Fridays on “MiWeek” on Detroit Public TV, Channel 56.