Magazine June 11, 2012, Issue

Tea-Party Prequel

Franklin Delano Roosevelt circa 1933 (Library of Congress)
Will today’s conservative grassroots go the way of FDR’s constitutional foes?

The three-plus years of the Obama administration have been something of a roller coaster for the Republican party and the broader conservative movement. On one hand there was Scott Brown’s Obamacare-backlash-fueled taking of “Ted Kennedy’s seat,” the recapture of the House, and the debt-ceiling battle. On the other, there was the bloody presidential primary, the divided base, and, well, the debt-ceiling battle.

It’s hard to imagine we would have been heading into the election with any of the above — Brown, a Republican House, a rightward-shifting base, a slugfest over the debt, not to mention a vulnerable presidential incumbent — without

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