Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people living for today
Welcome to Washington, DC, where some folks are doing their best John Lennon impressions, asking Americans to imagine “what if” conservatives didn’t mount a legislative fight against Obamacare this fall – a fight that still continues.
The folly of this type of political counterfactual thinking is undeniable, but I’ll play along for fun.
What if, instead of throwing its political energy into a failing effort to stop President Obama’s stimulus in 2009, the Republican Party spent the months of January and February finding ways to working with the man who had won more votes than any other person in U.S. history?
If the GOP had taken that path, Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter would not have felt compelled to switch political parties, as he did on April 28, 2009. Specter, of course, was one of just three congressional Republicans to support Obama’s stimulus.
But it didn't happen. The GOP chose instead to embark on its ill-fated drive to fight Obama’s stimulus. When it became law, the party became weaker as Specter switched parties, giving the Democrats a 60-vote super majority in the Senate. Just eight months after switching parties, Specter proved to be the decisive 60th vote in for Obamacare, which passed the Senate on Christmas Eve.
To paraphrase Joe Biden, this is a bunch of malarkey.
We’ll never know if a go-along-to-get-along mentality on the stimulus would have made the Republican Party stronger and thus more likely to have stopped Obamacare, or whether the capitulation would have made the party weaker. And it doesn’t matter for two reasons: 1) conservative principles demanded a fight on the stimulus; and 2) you cannot change the past.
Fast forward to today.
Some right-leaning pundits are wasting precious key strokes playing the same type of “what if” game. Here is a brief snippet of Byron York’s counterfactual:
“And the public would likely be interested. A number of polls have shown that a majority of Americans have very little detailed knowledge of Obamacare. For them, the health care law was always something that was a year, or two, or three, away. But now it's here, and they'll need to learn about it, and fast. The Republican campaign would have filled in a lot of knowledge gaps, at just the moment Obamacare was finally arriving in Americans' lives.”
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