On Sean’s panel last night, when the conversation turned to how nervous Democrats supposedly are over what for now is teeing up like a very bad November, I felt like I was channeling Mark Steyn, Mark Levin, and Rush. That is, I think our side is analyzing this all wrong: Today’s Democrats are controlled by the radical Left, and it is more important to them to execute the permanent transformation of American society than it is to win the upcoming election cycles. They have already factored in losing in November — even losing big. For them, winning big now outweighs that. I think they’re right.
I hear Republicans getting giddy over the fact that “reconciliation,” if it comes to that, is a huge political loser. That’s the wrong way to look at it. The Democratic leadership has already internalized the inevitablility of taking its political lumps. That makes reconciliation truly scary. Since the Dems know they will have to ram this monstrosity through, they figure it might as well be as monstrous as they can get wavering Democrats to go along with. Clipping the leadership’s statist ambitions in order to peel off a few Republicans is not going to work. I’m glad Republicans have held firm, but let’s not be under any illusions about what that means. In the Democrat leadership, we are not dealing with conventional politicians for whom the goal of being reelected is paramount and will rein in their radicalism. They want socialized medicine and all it entails about government control even more than they want to win elections. After all, if the party of government transforms the relationship between the citizen and the state, its power over our lives will be vast even in those cycles when it is not in the majority. This is about power, and there is more to power than winning elections, especially if you’ve calculated that your opposition does not have the gumption to dismantle your ballooning welfare state.
Consequently, the next six weeks, like the next ten months, are going to be worse than we think. We’re wired to think that everyone plays by the usual rules of politics — i.e., if the tide starts to change, the side against whom it has turned modifies its positions in order to stay viable in the next election. But what will happen here will be the opposite. You have a party with the numbers to do anything it puts its mind to, led by movement Leftists who see their window of opportunity is closing. We seem to expect them to moderate because that’s what everybody in their position does. But they won’t. They will put their heads down and go for as much transformation as they can get, figuring that once they get it, it will never be rolled back. The only question is whether there are enough Democrats who are conventional politicians and who care about being reelected, such that they will deny the leadership the numbers it needs. But I don’t think we should take much heart in this possibility. Those Democrats may well come to think they are going to lose anyway — that’s why so many of them are abandoning ship now. If that’s the case, their incentive will be to vote with the leadership.
At the end of the summit debacle, President Obama put the best face on a bad day by indicating that he intended to push ahead with socialized medicine and face the electoral consequences (“that’s what elections are for,” he concluded). He’s right about that. For Republicans, it won’t be enough to fight this thing, then deride it if Democrats pull it off, and finally coast to a very likely electoral victory in November. The question is: What are you going to do to roll this back? What is your plan to undo this?
This post from Irwin Stelzer at The Standard caught my eye this morning (my italics):
Americans overwhelmingly say that their main concern is jobs, and that they are satisfied with their current health care arrangements. In response, an allegedly chastened President Obama “pivoted,” and says his primary concern from now on will be job creation, which will take priority over his controversial plan to radically change the nation’s health care system. Yet, last week he backed a $15 billion job-creation bill, which passed the Senate, and a $1 trillion health care bill. Since the federal balance sheet is already under huge pressure, this set of priorities tells us that the Obama administration intends to concentrate available resources on transforming the economy — a long-term, permanent restructuring of the health care and energy sectors that was planned long before the failure of Lehman Brothers triggered the financial mess Obama inherited.