In Waco, Texas, the town's Tea Party group blocked a local bailout. According to local media reports, in October the Waco City council approved a $700,000 loan to keep a local high-tech firm afloat under new ownership. But when the Waco Tea Party got wind of the decision, they mobilized to prevent it.
"It made me mad," recalled leadership council member Lisa Dickison, a mild-mannered woman who looks incapable of anger.
Waco Tea Party head Toby Marie Walker said five or six members went to a county commissioner meeting, where the bailout was due to be approved. Walker said their presence alone led the commissioners to stop the bail out.
"We just had to show up and they knew why we were there," she said.
The healthcare debate is where conservative Tea Partiers feel they have had most impact. They are convinced they forced Republicans into opposing the reform and felt they were a crucial factor in getting Scott Brown elected to the Senate seat left vacant by the death of Ted Kennedy.
"On a conference call in December someone said maybe Brown could win and that we should get behind him," Meckler of the Tea Party Patriots said. "The idea gained momentum from there."
People like retirees Calvin and Linda Dykstra wanted to eliminate the Democrats' 60-seat, filibuster-proof majority that helped healthcare reform pass a vote in late December. They drove from western Michigan to Massachusetts in January and spent a week campaigning for Brown.