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Suspending Reason

Kim Strassel notes that support for ObamaCare seems to be, well, slight. The polling is atrocious. The Left has gone bonkers over the loss of the public option. The bill’s particulars are essentially unknown. So why the furor to get it passed? Strassel suggests:

The liberal wing of the party—the Barney Franks, the David Obeys—are focused beyond November 2010, to the long-term political prize. They want a health-care program that inevitably leads to a value-added tax and a permanent welfare state. Big government then becomes fact, and another Ronald Reagan becomes impossible. See Continental Europe.

The entitlement crazes of the 1930s and 1960s also caused a backlash, but liberal Democrats know the programs of those periods survived. They are more than happy to sacrifice a few Blue Dogs, a Blanche Lincoln, a Michael Bennet, if they can expand government so that in the long run it benefits the party of government.

So why haven’t the vulnerable Democrats caught on, and why are they still supporting this? Well, the Red State Democrats may feel queasy, but they’re being cajoled and strong-armed on a daily basis. These are creatures of the party, and the party, with all its leaders, is pressing ahead, urging them to stick with their colleagues. And when the president calls you to the White House, it’s awfully hard to say no.

And then there’s the interpretation — or misinterpretation — of 1994. The White House has held up the collapse of HillaryCare and the Democratic wipeout in 1994 as evidence of what happens to an incumbent party that doesn’t do something, no matter how half-baked. There is plenty of evidence to the contrary, as Jeffrey Anderson and Andy Wickersham point out. They note that those Democrats who suffered most at the polls in 1994 were not conservative Democrats but instead those typical mainstream Democrats who supported HillaryCare.

So Red State Democrats are caught in a bind. Their president and leaders are pushing hard for them to support ObamaCare. The voters are telling them that if they vote for this monstrosity, they will suffer at the polls. If they can withstand the pressure tactics and if they think hard about 1994 and 2010, they might reconsider being sent off to political slaughter. But Harry Reid promises to keep them there 24 hours a day, just the environment that makes rational decision-making nearly impossible.


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