Beginning with a pledge to make health care more accessible to millions of Americans, Obama and his Democratic allies on Capitol Hill have instead made millions of Americans into serfs of the insurance companies who paid for their Senate seats. Not only did Obama predictably dump on seniors, a demographic that didn’t vote for him, but he managed to stab the same youth vote that got him to where he is today in the back by forcing them to buy health insurance in order to subsidize his social welfare programs.
The combination of Obama’s sense of political invulnerability and a Democratic congress desperate to stave off midterm election defeats during a depression brought us this far. And pork got us the rest of the way. And what the Democratic congress got is a final bundle of pork to take with them on their way out the door. Nancy Pelosi and those Senators and Congressman ensconced in safe liberal parts of the country may be safe, though even their constituents are increasingly disgusted with them, but their congressional majority that was built on conservative Democrats is very shaky indeed.
While the White House has kept trying to sell the spin of a divided Republican party caught between the moderates and the extremists, the Democrats have fought their own mini-civil war to demonstrate their basic intolerance, but the health care debate is likely to demonstrate that the progressives in the Democratic party are the same unprincipled political hacks as their more centrist counterparts. It really doesn’t matter whether you’re Ben Nelson or Al Franken, Alan Grayson or John Tanner. It all comes down to the same thing, as a dysfunctional party which tried to use an economic recession as the backdrop for a power grab has been caught with its hand in the cookie jar by an increasingly exasperated public.
Every compromise made to push through ObamaCare has only highlighted the incoherent hypocrisy of the Democratic party in selling out every section of their base, ignoring the incredible mountain of public debt already created by Obama’s senseless spending sprees and demonstrating that the part of the bill that they were willing to fight and die for last week, turned out to be the part of the bill that no one needed after all. Forget reading the bill, as it turned out no one could even manage to read through the amendments.
The states are not happy. Liberal state governors and mayors are protesting the bribes that Nebraska and Louisiana got, and arguing that they were punished for providing health care. Conservative state politicians are fighting against the imposition of the plan, with South Carolina’s Attorney General already launching an investigation. Progressive activists and bloggers are trying to feed their lump of coal to the firebreathers and telling them it’s a sugar plum. And the Blue Dogs are either retiring or switching parties, which makes the Democratic battle in the 2010 midterm elections that much more of an uphill battle.
Obama began his term by posturing as FDR, but declaring “Mission Accomplished” on the stimulus plan while the economy was being flushed has made him less popular than Bush was in his second term. ObamaCare was supposed to fix all that, but as it turned out people wanted jobs, not a giant government rationed health care plan. Not getting the message, congress has kept pushing forward on the theory that since they’re screwed either way, they might as well try and deliver something they can point to as an accomplishment in 2010. It’s not exactly statesmanship, but it is politics as usual.
The resulting chaos has however not only made an already unpopular congress, unpopular… it has helped make Obama extremely unpopular. And every dirty trick and foul consequence of ObamaCare, from protests over mandatory coverage, to the escalating size of congressional pork in the aftermath of Ben Nelson’s 100 million dollar bribe and the “Louisiana Purchase”, to the death panel subsection that cannot be repealed, to the shouts of glee at insurance companies as their stocks soar on the news that Congress has just put a gun to the head of every American and marched them down to their local insurance office—will come home to roost at a Democratic White House and Capitol Hill.
After this the idea of selling any kind of big tent party is a farce. The only way Conservative Democrats can win in 2010 is by distancing themselves from Obama and their own party, sometimes literally as Alabama Congressman Parker Griffith has done by actually switching parties, or by staying officially within the ranks yet detaching themselves from most Democratic policies.With the Democratic left exposed as a sham and the Democratic right facing a choice between defection and retirement, there isn’t a whole lot for the party left to run on.
With ObamaCare, the party has reached into its hat and pulled out the largest social welfare program since the days of LBJ. And that has made them about as popular as LBJ. Out of touch with the concerns of ordinary Americans and utterly tone deaf to the national dialogue, Obama still continues his soft shoe routine as Jester in Chief, phoning in to the radio show of his close ally former Virginia Governor and DNC Chairman Tim Kaine, who is supposed to help the party hold on in conservative parts of the country. But considering that Kaine couldn’t even help Creigh Deeds hold on to the state, he might prove to be a little underqualified for the job.
Virginia and New Jersey were the first bellwethers of a shifting political tide that might leave the Democratic party as the Party of Chicago, Detroit and Berkeley. Obama, the party’s charismatic hedge against inflation, has thus far barely managed to hold on to the last tattered shreds of his former popularity. The party is then left with a choice between going for broke as they did with ObamaCare, enacting their big picture socialist programs and not caring who they alienate, backing off and trying to win over the public again, or grabbing the first plane out to Venezuela for a loving welcome from left wing dictator Hugo Chavez.
Throughout it all, the Democrats have failed to grasp that their political agenda is at odds with any hope of retaining their popularity. Now in the aftermath of the ObamaCare boondoggle, the choice may be clearer than ever for them. They can either have power on the people’s terms or be a minority party again on their own terms. With ObamaCare they have chosen the latter and they are welcome to it.
Daniel Greenfield is a New York City writer and columnist. He is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and his articles appears at its Front Page Magazine site.
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