The right had an opportunity to oppose healthcare from a position of principle, and to give their best argument about the morality of the bill, the ideals of individualism vs. a collective modality, or about why the free market could solve the vexing problem of insuring the uninsured if Government were not involved. Though they still might have lost such an argument, they might not have, and would certainly have made their ideals and principles well known through that effort.
But instead, they threw bombast about Marxism and Death Panels. Instead of principled defenders of their faith, we got shrill talk show hosts coming across as the angry, bitter old men that most of them are. Up until the last (and even after that) the 'tea partiers' have come across as a bunch of whiny juveniles. And in having lost that debate they have set themselves up for more problems in the future.
Had opponents of health care reform won, they would in fact have been able to back up every word and prediction they said about it by saying, 'Look what we saved you from.'
But they did not prevail. And the harsh rhetoric they used has probably painted them into a corner. People will be looking for the government takeover of hospitals, insurance companies and the rest of the health care system. They will be looking for a Stalinist police state. They will be waiting for their ration cards before they can see a doctor. They will be waiting with terror for the Death Panel to come knock on their door in the middle of the night.
Of course none of this will happen, and when it doesn't then you will have to wonder how many people will listen the next time the GOP cries 'wolf.'