Thanks to lies, damned lies, and statistics, Barack Obama’s health care “reform” plan has passed the House, and is all but certain to become law this week (and as if that isn’t bad enough, the public option is still waiting in the wings, too). Reactions are about what you’d expect—leg tingles among leftists, anger among conservatives, and the punditry is already scrambling to figure out what comes next.
In 2010, the excesses of the social welfare state are well known and understood to all Americans except the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, which controls Congress. After muscling the largest federal expansion through Congress in 40 years by only three votes, despite having a 75-member majority, Republicans have just lost a battle, but we might be winning the war.
Without a doubt, the Democrats have set themselves up for a potential electoral massacre, thanks to their utter insistence on passing a bill the American people don’t want and the despicable, anti-democratic tactics they explored in advancing it. A “repeal it!” mantra is emerging, just waiting to be seized upon by 2010’s slate of conservative candidates (as Bill Kristol put it, the Democrats have just handed Republicans a one-item Contract with America to run on). John “Doctor Zero” Hayward is absolutely right to say:
There is no reason any Democrat up for re-election in 2010 or 2012 needs to retain their seats. They don’t own those seats, any more than the Kennedys owned Massachussetts. There’s no reason the Democrats need to exist as a viable political party after 2012. Obama can be their last President.
Repealing ObamaCare is both a smart political pledge and a worthy policy goal—Kristol points out that much of the plan doesn’t take effect until 2014, and in the meantime the Congress of 2011 will have a say in approving funding—but whether the Republican Party can do what needs to be done is another question entirely.
The passion displayed by House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) last night was encouraging, as was the uniformity of Republican opposition, but the GOP also has a knack for pulling defeat from the jaws of victory, has never been all that great at outmaneuvering the media to establish its own narrative, and is possessed with an infuriating tendency to greet the most vile invective imaginable with the mildest responses. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) has received well-deserved credit for his leadership and substantive advocacy of GOP alternatives, but the party as a whole allowed itself to be too easily painted as a “party of no” without ideas of its own.
If the Republicans want to “find their revenge” in 2010, they can’t expect to simply ride populist anger to victory without major effort on their part. They’re going to have to articulate a coherent, sustained message between now and then that keeps the shame of the Democrats’ conduct, the duplicity of their intentions, and the follies of ObamaCare fresh in the people’s minds, as well as convince the public that they know the real path to improving American healthcare, and are ready, willing, and able to make the journey.