In the upcoming presidential election, two issues are more important than any others: repealing Obamacare and halting illegal immigration. If we fail at either one, the country will be changed permanently.
Taxes can be raised and lowered. Regulations can be removed (though they rarely are). Attorneys general and Cabinet members can be fired. Laws can be repealed. Even Supreme Court justices eventually die.
But capitulate on illegal immigration, and the entire country will have the electorate of California. There will be no turning back.
Similarly, if Obamacare isn't repealed in the next few years, it never will be.
America will begin its ineluctable descent into becoming a worthless Western European country, with rotten health care, no money for defense and ever-increasing federal taxes to support the nanny state.
So let's consider which of the Republican candidates are most likely to succeed at these objectives.
In order to allow Democrats to indignantly denounce Republicans who said Obamacare would add to the deficit, the bill was structured so that no goodies get paid out immediately. That way, when the Congressional Budget Office was asked to determine if Obamacare was "revenue neutral" over its first 10 years, government accountants were looking at a bill that collected taxes for 10 years, but only distributed treats in the later years.
Starting at year 11, those accountants will be in for a big surprise when the government starts paying out Obamacare benefits without interruption.
Because of this accounting fraud, Obamacare can still be repealed. But as soon as all Americans have been thrown off their employer-provided insurance plans and are forced to start depending on the government for health care, Republicans will never be able to repeal it.
The vast complex of unionized government workers managing our health care from Washington will fight to keep their jobs (for more on this topic, see the Department of Education), voters will want their "free" government treats (for more on this topic, see Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security) -- and even if they don't, there won't be a private insurance market for them to go back to (for more on this topic, see IRS rules favoring employer-provided health care).
The only way to stop Obamacare is to beat Obama in 2012, and repeal it before the health care Leviathan is born.
Otherwise, starting in 2016, Republicans will run for office promising only to improve Obamacare. Newt Gingrich will be calling plans to reform it "right-wing social engineering."