The seemingly endless cascade of Obamacare lies and catastrophes has produced a number of analyses suggesting, quite reasonably, that the Democratic party — indeed, liberalism itself — has suffered grievous injury and that Republicans are well-positioned to capture a number of seats in both houses in 2014. Several news reports yesterday seized upon a statement from a furious Democratic congressional staffer that, “this [Obamacare] either gets fixed or this could be the demise of the Democratic party.”
That statement is nonsense on steroids. Obamacare is shaping up as the most visible domestic policy disaster in our lifetimes and Democrats/progressives will suffer a setback as a result, but conservatives would be mistaken to think that public backlash against Obamacare represents a durable realignment in public sentiment against big-government liberalism or that Democrats will suffer more than a temporary, shallow setback from the debacle.
Democrats and progressives enjoy several structural advantages that insure a relatively quick rebound in their fortunes. The first is Republican complacency. Republicans have a habit of thinking – after a dramatic electoral or policy victory — that they’ve won the public debate, that Americans have finally seen the light and have rejected liberalism. Republicans, and many conservatives in general, then reduce or altogether abandon efforts to continue to persuade and educate the public on the benefits of conservative principles. One of the more vivid examples of this failure occurred shortly after the 1994 congressional elections. Republicans behaved as if conservatism had won a long-term, if not permanent, victory only to find that in politics there are no permanent victories or permanent defeats.
Another significant Democratic advantage, as we all know too well, is media obeisance. It’s true that for the first time in five years it appears the news media are doing more than acting as cheerleaders for Democrats and liberalism, but this will change rapidly. The mainstream press will seize, or if necessary, manufacture, the first available opportunity, whether large or small, to revert to form and attack Republicans. At first, it will manifest itself simply as a failure to cover adverse Obamacare developments, even significant ones. Then they will grab every opportunity to change the subject. This will swiftly evolve into attacks on Republicans and sympathetic stories about heroic administration efforts to solve the problem in the face of right-wing (and, of course, racist) resistance. This evolution will take not months, but weeks or even days.
Liberals also command popular culture. For the moment, late-night comedians and other entertainers can’t help but comment on the cosmic display of ineptitude and deceit before them. But popular culture, despite a few conservative oases, is a liberal satrapy. It’s denizens, too, will revert to form.
Perhaps most problematic, liberals have nearly completed their long march through the country’s institutions. They utterly dominate the educational establishment — with predictable consequences. Huge portions of our younger population are predisposed toward liberal arguments, arguments not immediately proven false by the facts of life because we’ve succeeded in insulating young adults from such facts by delaying official “adulthood” year by year. The traditional bulwark against liberal idiocies, the two-parent family, is going the way of the dinosaur. Big corporations and other large organizations make common cause with big-government liberalism.
So Obamacare is a huge problem for Democrats and liberals. Even bigger Obamacare problems are set to emerge in the next year. But this doesn’t assure Republican and conservative ascendancy. That will require indefatigable education, persuasion, and good and smart policy.