They had evidently read too much Arthur Schlesinger on the glories of the New Deal and too little Friedrich Hayek on the futility of central planning in a complex society.
So they forged ahead with their legislation even after the American people, through the unlikely medium of the voters of Massachusetts, said, "Please don't pass this bill." People would get to like it -- and to know what was in it -- after it was passed.
Looking back, it seems that most Americans instinctively shared Hayek's skepticism more than they hankered for Schlesinger's celebration of big government.
Some liberals seem to understand this. In a column for the New York Times, Thomas Edsall quotes Harvard economist Benjamin Friedman as saying that in times when a nation is "undergoing a decline in the material realm." it may be less than usually amenable to "greater generosity toward those who, through some combination of natural circumstance, market forces and sheer luck, have been left behind."
History provides support for that. In the distressed 1930s, when FDR expanded American government, our Anglosphere cousins in Britain, Canada and Australia voted for governments that opposed similar policies.
The Obamacare rollout that began nearly three months ago has proved more disastrous than all but a few critics of the legislation dared to predict. Polling shows increasing opposition to the legislation and to the credibility of Obama Democrats who, falsely, assured people they could keep their policies and their doctors if they liked them.
The apparent skepticism of most voters that government could competently administer the health care sector seems to have been justified -- and then some.
Gallup reports that 72 percent of Americans see big government, not big business or big labor, as the biggest threat to the nation's future -- the highest number since the question was first asked in 1965.
The Obama Democrats assumed Americans would embrace big government policies. They seem to have proved the opposite.
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