Tea-party chief: Boehner exit marks ‘great day for freedom’
Sept. 25, 2015: Then-House Speaker John Boehner announced he would resign from Congress, and one of the core groups behind the tea-party movement told WND he couldn’t be happier.
“Great day for conservatives, great day for freedom,” said FreedomWorks President and CEO Adam Brandon, whose organization led petition drives and encouraged Americans to demand the resignation of Boehner.
FreedomWorks was a key player in organizing the tea party, which fueled public resistance to ideas like the Wall Street bailout, the Obama stimulus and Obamacare. Passage of those items and others despite public revulsion led to a Republican House majority in 2010. Boehner became speaker, but Brandon said he failed to live up to the promises that made him the most powerful man in Congress.
Brandon said the Boehner resignation followed on the heels of a stunning rejection of the House GOP leadership in 2014.
“This started when Dave Brat defeated (then-House Majority Leader) Eric Cantor in Virginia,” he told WND and Radio America in an interview. “After every one of those victories, you always hear the same thing. ‘Oh, the tea-party movement has died out. Oh, it doesn’t have that much of a political bite in Washington.’ Every single time that happens, this roars back to life.”
He added, “Speaker Boehner was defeated by members of the House Freedom Caucus, and the House Freedom Caucus has its direct lineage in this grassroots movement.”
Boehner said he wanted to avoid a contentious vote inside the GOP conference but insisted he made up his mind that morning and was leaving on his own terms. Brandon strongly disagreed.
“He woke up and realized after some meetings yesterday that this House Freedom Caucus was going to stay together and he was out of options,” he said at the time.
Listen to the WND/Radio America interview with FreedomWorks President and CEO Adam Brandon:
While the timing of Boehner’s decision surprised a lot of people, conservative discontent was palpable for years. Just prior to the summer recess, Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., introduced a resolution to remove Boehner as speaker. It was not acted upon, but Brandon said that was the handwriting on the wall for Boehner’s time in the speaker’s chair.
“Mark Meadows’ resolution was kind of a sword of Damocles hanging over the speaker’s head. Everyone laughed at it and laughed earlier in the year at a motion in which 25 people back in January said they didn’t want the speaker. I think people went from laughing to smirking to getting nervous,” said Brandon, who noted that anywhere from 50-70 House Republicans were ready to reject Boehner.
So why was a growing number of House Republicans ready to cast Boehner aside? Brandon said there were multiple reasons, starting with high-profile failures.
“From ‘cromnibus’ to the failure to stand up on Iran to a failure to do anything real big, that’s not why you have a Republican majority,” he said. “You have a Republican majority to do things and they weren’t really doing anything. There were over 40 or 50 show votes on Obamacare, but when it really came to defund Obamacare, nothing happened.”
Another point of frustration for many grassroots activists was their belief that Boehner constantly surrendered ground to the president.
“There was too much negotiating against himself and not enough standing up to President Obama,” Brandon said. “President Obama has been relentless in pursuing his agenda. He puts his lines in the sand down on ‘If you don’t fund Planned Parenthood, I’m going to veto everything.’ Then Boehner would quickly go back and say, ‘Oh OK, how about this? How about this?'”
Brandon said that was a sure-fire prescription for failure.
“That’s not how you negotiate,” he said. “You negotiate from a position of strength. ‘Here’s what we demand. Here’s where we are. You say where you are, and then we’ll sit across the table.”