It seems that Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) opened the floodgates.
When Schumer criticized the Affordable Care Act for being both the wrong policy enacted at the wrong time and also for being a policy overreach, his comments sparked a fierce backlash from a variety of former White House speechwriters. His comments drew support, however, from progressive icon Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).
On Wednesday, Schumer was joined by retiring Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA). “I look back and say we should have either done it the correct way or not done anything at all,” the longtime Democratic senator said of Obamacare.
No less a respected source than Thomas Edsall, writing in The New York Times opinion pages, joined the chorus on Wednesday. In his column, Edsall asked if the Democratic Party’s coalition was coming apart as a result of the ACA.
“Exit poll data from 1994, after President Clinton’s failed bid to pass health care reform, as well as from 2010 and 2014, provides further support for the Schumer argument,” he wrote. ‘In each of those three midterm elections there were huge white defections from the Democratic Party; in 2010 and 2014, there were comparable defections of senior voters.”
“The only way for Democratic Party leaders to stop the hemorrhaging, in Schumer’s view, is to take on the task of using the government to intervene in the private sector, pushing to raise wages and revive job opportunities for working men and women,” Edsall continued.
Edsall concludes by warning that Democrats cannot rely on increased turnout to carry their candidate to the White House in 2016. Even a small shift in the majority white vote is enough to overcome increased turnout among minorities that favors the Democratic candidate.
“Even though midterm elections favor Republicans, the 2014 results show middle- and working-class dissatisfaction with the Democratic Party rising to dangerous levels, which threatens the party’s growing demographic advantages.
Perhaps most notably, Republican House candidates in 2014 won 37 percent of the Hispanic vote, their highest percentage since Republicans rejected immigration reform in 2005, and a slight majority, 51-49, of Asian-American voters, who had been moving decisively in the Democrats’ favor. Asian-Americans and Hispanics are crucial to future Democratic presidential victories.”
“In combination with the growing Republican allegiance of whites, these trends raise the possibility that the Democratic plan for victory by demographics could implode, which would make the case for a full scale re-evaluation of its strategies and policies glaringly obvious.”
Speaking at the 1980 Democratic National Convention, the late Sen. Ted Kennedy delivered a rousing speech in support of his life’s mission to expand access to health coverage for all Americans. “For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dream shall never die,” Kennedy said to a standing ovation.
For all his claims to support Kennedy’s dream himself, it may have died in 2010 – and Obama might have been the one to kill it.