In opposing ObamaCare, the Tea Party took a position that increasing numbers of Americans agree with, now that ObamaCare's potential for disaster is becoming clearer by the day. But in trying to defund ObamaCare without the Congressional votes to do so, the Tea Party made a major tactical mistake.
Polls show that this mistake has already hurt the Republican Party, the only party that has any chance of repealing ObamaCare. To have any realistic prospect of repealing ObamaCare may require the Republicans to win both the 2014 and 2016 elections.
The Tea Party's failed and foredoomed defunding effort predictably got the Republicans blamed for shutting down the government. The fact that the Democrats also went down in the polls means nothing. Politics is a zero-sum game. If it hurts the Republicans more, that helps the Democrats.
Some defend the futile attempt to defund ObamaCare on grounds that it is much harder to repeal a law after it has gone into operation. That may often be true -- but not always.
Prohibition was repealed -- and it was a Constitutional Amendment, not just a piece of legislation. Prohibition could not be repealed by Congress alone, but required state legislatures to vote for repeal as well. Like ObamaCare, Prohibition sounded good to a lot of people before it went into effect. Only after they saw what a disaster it was in practice did people change their minds.
We are already seeing people changing their minds about ObamaCare, after they experienced the multiple disasters that are just starting to emerge. That includes Congressional Democrats who had voted for it.
If mistakes were always fatal, the human race would have become extinct long ago. So the fact that the Tea Party made a tactical misjudgment is not the end of the world. Everything depends on whether you learn from your mistake or refuse to admit that it was a mistake, even to yourself -- which is often the biggest mistake of all.
Barack Obama is currently giving a free demonstration of how refusing to admit your mistake can cost you public support, and even undermine your support within your own party.
The Tea Party does not need to repeat the same mistake that Obama has made -- especially since their principles are the opposite of his. The Tea Party is for protecting individual freedom from the ever growing, and ever more intrusive, power of government.