I may be talking about team dynamics, but I don't mean that there's no difference between the teams. Far from it. The Democrats sincerely believe that nationalized health care, in one form or another, is the best thing for America and that if they can get it passed, voters will fall in love with it. Politically, there is a real danger they're right. Americans are loath to relinquish entitlements once they've secured them. That's the Republicans' gamble.
Then again, Democrats run the very serious risk that before the imagined joys of health care reform can be realized, voters will revolt over its tax hikes, massive Medicare cuts, increased bureaucracy and/or its budget-exploding costs. That's the Democrats' gamble.
Some moderate Democrats are making a side bet that they can vote for it out of solidarity and then run back to the center come the 2010 elections.
Well, I say let it ride. And just to make it more interesting, Republicans should promise to repeal "Obamacare" if they get a congressional majority in 2010. As National Review's Ramesh Ponnuru argues, that way moderate Democrats won't be able to run away from their votes come 2010. They'll be on notice that this will be the campaign issue of the election. And moderate Republicans will be on notice to resist the temptation to tinker with Obamacare rather than defenestrate it once it's passed.
Sure, I'd rather see this health care proposal die stillborn (and that's still quite possible). But if it passes, the upside is that Americans will finally be given a stark philosophical choice on a fundamental issue. That's much rarer than you might think (recall that the Iraq war and the bailouts were bipartisan affairs).
Obamacare is a vast, deeply polarizing demonstration project for progressive ideas. It is terrible policy, but because I think it's terrible policy, it may well result in a beneficial backlash. "Example is the school of mankind," proclaimed Edmund Burke, "and they will learn at no other."
Democrats insist they're pushing for health care reform against a political headwind because "history" compels them to. Republicans are standing athwart "history" yelling, "Stop!"
Politically, one side will be proved right, and the side proved wrong will pay a staggering price. Everyone's all in.
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