The Weapons Given To Us
posted at 5:25 pm on March 23, 2010 by Doctor Zero
A race began today, when the President signed his health-care takeover bill. The vast majority of Americans opposed to this legislation have two election cycles in which to defeat it. If 2010 does not see a Republican House of Representatives, the first victims will disappear under the leading edge of a tax and regulation avalanche. A complete GOP takeover of Congress and the White House in 2012 could begin the process of repeal, and the implementation of real “reforms” that will actually improve the quality, and reduce the cost, of medical care. Even such a transfer of power would not end the race – the same spirit and organization necessary to put the Republicans in office will be needed to keep them focused on the task at hand – but at least the rumble from a trillion tons of unsustainable liability would begin to fade behind us.
Handicapping the outcome of this race is tricky. It’s always tough to predict the future in politics, as anyone who spent last year laughing at the notion of a Republican successor for Ted Kennedy could tell you. Discussing what should happen is very different from measuring the odds of what will happen. Thomas Sowell sounds a sober warning about the hazards ahead:
True, President Obama’s approval numbers in the polls have fallen below 50 percent, and that of Congress is down around 10 percent. But nobody votes for Congress as a whole, and the President will not be on the ballot until 2012.
[…] The voters will have had no experience with the actual, concrete effect of the government takeover of medical care at the time of either the 2010 Congressional elections or the 2012 Presidential elections. All they will have will be conflicting rhetoric– and you can depend on the mainstream media to go along with the rhetoric of those who passed this medical care bill.
Too many critics of the Obama administration have assumed that its arrogant disregard of the voting public will spell political suicide for Congressional Democrats and for the President himself. But that is far from certain.
Dr. Sowell’s points are well taken. On the other hand, current events have placed some powerful weapons in the hands of liberty’s champions. One example of political firepower I can already hear sliding from its holster is the Narrative. Controlling the storyline is very important in a political debate, and the plot of the health-care horror story has already become so fixed in the public mind that not even the Democrats’ media allies can rewrite it.
Look at the way Nancy Pelosi’s grimly hilarious assertion that we needed to pass ObamaCare to “find out what’s in it” has already led to the discoveries that it controls the writing on restaurant drive-thru menus, and exempts congressional staffers from the back-breaking mandates it piles on the little people.
These developments are more than a belt of ammo feeding into the Twitter mini-guns of conservative bloggers. They’re continuing evidence that the opponents of ObamaCare were absolutely correct about it. Since the voters were already angry about the sleazy passage of this bill, they’re likely to transfer a great deal of their trust away from the people who lied to them.
Further reinforcement for the narrative of a desperate, clueless party grabbing for power will arrive when future modifications destroy whatever flimsy structure ObamaCare held at signing. The existing legislation describes years of onerous mandates and taxes before any benefits kick in. Does anyone really think Democrats will hold to that script, especially after the voters decimate them in 2010? The first betrayals of ObamaCare’s illusory principles will come quickly, now that nobody cares what the Congressional Budget Office says any more. A bloated government that couldn’t produce fifteen billion in toenail scrapings for “emergency” unemployment benefits is not going to donate one of its kidneys to preserve a carefully rigged ten-year deficit forecast it no longer needs.
ObamaCare has also granted a remarkable degree of focus to the opposition. The Republican party is usually diffuse, as disappointed voters watch their representatives take their seats at a table few of them oppose on principle, and tuck into the latest pork-fried legislation. The post-Reagan era has been characterized by the failure of an apathetic electorate to mount determined resistance to each new frantic plea for a few billion more in deficit spending.
Suddenly, the Republicans are focused like a laser beam. ObamaCare is too much, too fast. It has galvanized the GOP, and provided a spotlight for star turns by people like Paul Ryan and John Boehner. The Democrats have long coasted upon the inertia of an inexorably growing State. They will come to appreciate the danger of handing their opponents a simple banner of “Repeal!”, which they can raise above an electorate angry about being deceived and ignored. The American tradition is to elect representatives… and depose rulers.
The last few months have produced a dangerous degree of clarity, for an ideology that thrives on endlessly manipulating language and changing its brand name – progressive, liberal, socialist, or whatever they’re calling themselves this week. It’s commonly said that independents provide the decisive votes in national elections. How can anyone call themselves “independent” without fighting this monstrous bill and its authors, tooth and nail? What are they supposed to be independent of?
Liberals used to sneer at George Bush’s cowboy rhetoric about being “with us or against us” in the War on Terror. Well, either you submit to ObamaCare, or you’re against it. There’s no middle ground left. The illusion of “pro-life Democrats” died with Bart Stupak’s integrity. The illusion of “moderate Democrats” will not survive the next few months. The tactical problem with shoving a gigantic government takeover down everyone’s throats is that mild objections become impossible. As one of the tag lines from “The X-Files” put it, while warning against the dangers of total government power wrapped in lies: resist or serve.
Finally, the Republicans have gained access to the most potent weapon of all: vision. The slow, senseless lumber toward insolvency is over. Social Security and Medicare have entered the early stages of meltdown… and Democrats laughed and applauded as they signed a bill that will add trillions more to our national debt. The endgame for American socialism is no longer a distant matter we can foist on our grandchildren. It’s probably less than twenty years away, and the continuing collapse of the private sector will accelerate it. There are plenty of unforeseen events that could make it worse, and very few that could make things better.
The Republicans have an opportunity to put all of this in context, presenting ObamaCare as the most absurd excess of a doomed system, rather than an isolated outrage. The vision of dependency and control expressed by this bill, coupled with its delusional ignorance of economic reality, is profoundly at odds with the American tradition of independence and Constitutional restraint. To put it simply, this statist agenda won’t work – it never does, and never has. Explaining why is a challenging, and rewarding, task. Met successfully, it will have far more profound results that merely repealing ObamaCare.
The American people are already deep in the funk of Obama fatigue, a condition that took five or six years to set in for George Bush or Bill Clinton. The process of dragging ObamaCare over their increasingly strenuous objections was exhausting… and now the post-signing sales pitch is under way. Every time they turn on the TV, they’re going to get a face full of a President they’re already weary of, repeating the same hollow rhetoric that didn’t sell them the first hundred times they heard it.
They’ll also get plenty more of the backroom deals, hidden surprises, and empty promises they didn’t like during the initial passage of the bill. They’ll be serenaded by power-drunk Democrats mumbling about imaginary clauses to a Constitution that seems increasingly alien to their governance. A strong, coherent alternative vision will be welcome.
Of course, these weapons will be useful only if Republicans pick them up. We’ve already got John Cornyn peering down the barrel of statism as he fumbles with the trigger. The Republican Party played its part in getting us here, and they will have to transform into something sharper and stronger, in order to prevent their country from being transformed by a State that officially discarded all boundaries to its ambitions today.
Cross-posted at www.doczero.org.