The tea party needs to recognize that it's playing with live ammo

Call it “Vote No, Hope Yes.”

Vote-No-Hope-Yes works well, as long as you don’t wield too much power. But something funny happened recently. The Tea Partiers gained some real clout, and started wielding significant power — maybe more than they realized.

When Lee and Cruz decided over the summer to demand the defunding of Obamacare in exchange for keeping the government open, many of their allies didn’t think government would ever actually shut down. They wanted a fight that would highlight Obamacare’s flaws (as if the exchanges’ opening wouldn’t do that enough), and that would rally the conservative base.

Here’s the problem: If enough voices, with enough credibility among the conservative base, start insisting all lawmakers support defund, this actually moves members of the House and Senate. And then something scary happens: Your policies go into effect. In this case, the government shut down because the House wouldn’t pass a continuing resolution without the defunding language.

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