Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns


Life After Suicide

The agony over Obamacare continues.  As Jeffrey Anderson reminds us at NRO, only the House of Reps. matters now.  If the House passes the Senate version of Obamacare, then America get the Senate version of Obamacare.  Period.  Who really cares if the tax on "cadillac" health care plans begins in 2018 or 2016 or 2015 or whatever?

Based on simple self-preservation, it should be impossible for Obama to switch any of the votes of House Democrats who voted no on Obamacare to yes.  Most come from districts who have right-leaning constituencies.  The liberal blog memes seem to be that that voting yes on Obamacare would a) get out the liberal base and save their hides and b) passing Obamacare will show the public that higher taxes and medicare cuts are just awesome and that only Republican spin caused people to doubt our dear President.  I doubt if any of the Democrats being targeted are dumb enough to buy this nonsense.  They come from districts where getting the Democratic base on your side doesn't get you very far when it is an issue where less than 45% of the people are on your side.  They must also know that it will not be helpful to vote for tax increases and medcare cuts in right-leaning districts in a year where the turnout model will skew both older and more conservative.

But there is another, more promising path.  One might argue to these Democrats that they are probably losers no matter how they vote on Obamacare.  It really is 1994 all over again (at least in their districts) and keeping his distance from Clintoncare didn't help Jim Cooper when he ran for Senate from Tennessee.  But there is more than the November election to think about.  There is voting no, sterile defeat, and obscurity and there is voting yes, defeat and attractive options.  The Obama administration and the institutions of the left-of-center have gifts in hand for a defeated member of the House of Reps whose vote made the difference in making real the dream of state-run health care.  For the lawyers, are places on the federal bench.  For those more interested in uh... culture, there are ambassadorships to safe countries with pleasant climates.  For the wannabe academics, Harvard's Kennedy School of Government could place a whole crop of Professors of Distinguished Public Service Who Lost In A Good Cause Because of Unfair Republican Attacks.  And Profiles in Courage Awards for all.  

The most effective argument Obama might haveleft is that the targeted Democrats face electoral death no matter what they do, but if they vote right (or left, if you will), they can find an afterlife of financial stability and and status rewards. 

Categories > Politics

Discussions - 4 Comments

Or....those who vote yes from districts that were essentially against it can end up having their reputations forever being one of the pinatas in the "Whack what is wrong with our political system and its contempt for the idea of popular sovereignty so that future generations may learn" category. Judgeships last only a lifetime. Historical ignominy as a would-be overlord with disdain for the ability of the people to figure out things (without your help) is forever.

And of course, I can't think of anything that would decisively refute the outlandish notion that the political class cares more about the interests and desires of a.) their political party and b.) opinions of educated elites over constituents than if representatives who voted "yes" when their district wanted "no" and were then sent packing in the election as a rebuke somehow still ended up in positions of prominence and importance--particularly if they were in government. I think it would in fact strengthen, rather than weaken, the faith of the people in the fundamental legitimacy of their government and the need for the increasingly strict laws they are *ruled* under.

Of course, I could be mistaken....

Look, Dem Reps--I know it's a no-win scenario. But there is losing with grace and honor, and just losing with spite. And honestly--being able to say that "I voted as my people wished, even though I knew they would never reward me for it, nor would those who led me down to this end" is a mark of courage and honor worthy of any statesman, and a *true* Profile in Courage.

And who knows--perhaps even one that might not lead to a doom of finality. Stop politicking. Start *being*. For one moment in your life, if nothing else--be a statesman and resist the ever-increasing rush to identifying with a faction above anything else. For we cannot continue on this path forever. If your district is clearly going to throw you out for a vote "yes", then you must vote "no", or else popular sovereignty and consent of the governed means nothing and the experiment in rule by the people failed.

Horatius, I don't think it is illegitimate for Democrats to vote for Obamacare in the face of public opposition any more than it was illegitimate for Republicans in Congress to support the surge in the face of public opposition in 2007. And I'm not talking about the poltical class in general. Bernie Sanders wants state-run health care (more radical than Obamacare) and Paul Ryan doesn't. They both puttheir votes where their principles are and I think that is true of most members of Congress on this issue. I do believe that a small, and in this case crucial, fraction of the House of Reps is looking to vote not on the merits, but on how their vote will determine their future careers and social status. I also think that while their votes are calculating, they would prefer that their vote be seen as brave and selfless (and career enhancing of course). I doubt they think that they think they will get much honor by voting no, losing to a Republican anyway, being shunned by their party elites (and being frozen out of the spoils), and going back to whatever they did before they got into politics. Maybe they would deserve respect in that case, but if that was the kind of thing they valued, they would already have already decided the thing on the merits (and I could respect either a yes or a no) or the wishes of their consituents.

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