BOSTON — In the city where a protest over tax policy sparked a revolution, modern-day Tea Party activists are cheering the recent Republican revolt in Washington that embarrassed House Speaker John Boehner and pushed the country closer to the "fiscal cliff."
"I want conservatives to stay strong," said Christine Morabito, president of the Greater Boston Tea Party. "Sometimes things have to get a lot worse before they get better."
Anti-tax conservatives from every corner of the nation echo her sentiment. In more than a dozen interviews, activists said they would rather fall off the cliff than agree to a compromise that includes tax increases for any Americans, no matter how high their income.
They dismiss economists' warnings that the automatic tax increases and deep spending cuts set to take effect Jan. 1 could trigger a fresh recession, and they overlook the fact that most people would see their taxes increase if President Barack Obama and Boehner, R-Ohio, fail to reach a year-end agreement.
The opposition among Tea Party activists and Republican leaders from New Hampshire to Wyoming to South Carolina highlights divisions within the GOP as well as the challenge Obama and Boehner face in trying to get a deal done.
On Capitol Hill, some Republicans worry about the practical and political implications should the GOP block a compromise.
"It weakens the entire Republican Party, the Republican majority," Rep. Steven LaTourette, R-Ohio, said after rank-and-file Republicans rejected Boehner's "Plan B" — a measure that would have prevented tax increases on all Americans except million-dollar-a-year earners.
"I mean it's the continuing dumbing down of the Republican Party, and we are going to be seen more and more as a bunch of extremists that can't even get a majority of our own people to support policies that we're putting forward," LaTourette said. "If you're not a governing majority, you're not going to be a majority very long."
It's a concern that doesn't seem to resonate with conservatives such as Tea Party activist Frank Smith of Cheyenne. He cheered Boehner's failure as a victory for anti-tax conservatives and a setback for Obama.
Smith said his "hat's off" to Republicans in Congress who rejected their own leader's plan.
"Let's go over the cliff and see what's on the other side," he said.
In conservative states such as South Carolina and Louisiana, party leaders encourage members of their congressional delegations to oppose any deal that includes tax increases. Elected officials from those states have little incentive to cooperate with the Democratic president, given that most of their constituents voted for Mitt Romney.
"If it takes us going off a cliff to convince people we're in a mess, then so be it," said South Carolina GOP chairman Chad Connelly. "We have a president who is a whiner. He has done nothing but blame President Bush. It's time to make President Obama own this economy."
Conservative opposition to compromise with Obama does not reflect the view of most Americans, according to recent public-opinion polls.
A CBS News survey conducted this month found that 81 percent of adults wanted Republicans in Congress to compromise in the current budget negotiations to get a deal done.
If a compromise continues to prove elusive, lawmakers could pass an extension that delays the cliff's most onerous provisions and gives Congress more time to work out a long-term solution.
Mississippi Republican chairman Joe Nosef shares his Southern colleagues' disdain for tax increases, but he stopped short of taking an absolute position.
"I really, really feel like the only way that Republicans can mess up badly is if they come away with nothing on spending or something that's the same old thing where they hope a Congress in 10 years will have the intestinal fortitude to do it," he said.