Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Democratic Pary Approaches the Point of No Return

Robert Gibbs, White House spokesman, says that the 2700 page health care bill will come up for a vote by next weekend. Democratic congressmen are getting ready to fall on their swords in return for a long laundry list of favors, preferments and other forms of treats. Here is a cartoon that mocks them:

cartoon 3-14, chan lowe gocomics 3-11 some wont be coming back.gif

And here is one of the great movie lines ever from Bob Hope.

The health care bill enshrines federal payments for abortion, adds over a hundred new government bureaucratic agencies and panels and makes the federal government responsible for approximately 20% of the US economy at one fell swoop. It is the biggest step toward making the US into a European style welfare state in the history of the Republic. Obama will have a legacy that is bigger than FDR, bigger than LBJ and his place in history will be assured. (Whether he will enjoy being in that place is another question.)

The economic implications of health care are enormous. If passed, it will drive up the federal deficit to a level relative to GDP more usually associated with third world basket cases than with superpowers. If this bill passes the US will either have to dial back sharply on military spending or ramp up taxes drastically or both. The implications for world security of the US going into an isolationist stance are unpredictable and the implications for the world economy of the US continuing to borrow at current rates are unknown. However, I'd prefer not to find out the implications of either one of those things.

Finally, the passing of health care could spell the end of the Democratic Party as a major party. What would happen to it is difficult to say but the coalition between the far left faction currently in power and the moderate faction that is electable in most of the US is in serious jeopardy. The left wing faction is unelectable on its own. So if the Party's center does not hold, the result may be Republican rule for a a generation.

Most people outside the US have very little understanding of the true implications of this health care bill and tend to regard it as the US joining the 20th century a bit late. It is often seen as just another piece of legislation. I think it is far more significant and its implications rather more far-reaching than that and I think it is for that reason extremely interesting to watch.


Nathan said...

"Finally, the passing of health care could spell the end of the Democratic Party as a major party."

It was less than two years ago that liberal bloggers were bragging that the GOP was now only a regional party (i.e. of the South). It's actually a pretty popular thing to predict the demise of one party or another. However even the Republicans came back from the dead after losing five straight presidential elections.

Craig Carter said...

True, that was probably an exaggeration. But the issue I want to point to is that the take-over of the Party by the McGovern supporting New Left in the early 70's has worked so far because the party has remained a big tent, despite the defection of the "Reagan Democrats" and the neo-conservatives. But what happens if the so-called "Blue Dog Democrats" conclude that they have no future in the party? The Conference of Catholic Bishops are gradually turning against the Democratic Party as their influence shrinks. Bart Stupak recently expressed pessimism about the future of a pro-life movement in the party.

What would prevent disaster would be a turn back to the center, such as a primary challenge to Obama from Hilary Clinton. But the question is what would happen to the hard left in such a situation. Likely they would just hold their noses and still vote Democratic. But what if they split off?

All things considered, the most likely thing (and the healthiest for US democracy) would be for the Democratic Party to shift to the center and remain a party capable of persuading enough independents to vote for it so that it remains a threat in each election. But many people thought Obama would lead this shift and it is looking ever less likely that he will.

Peter W. Dunn said...

Hi Craig:

It is doubtful that a Hillary candidacy would represent a move to the political centre. She is also a well-disguised radical, having written her own senior thesis on Saul Alinsky.

There has been for many years now a disconnect between the most prominent Democrats who control the party and the mainstream of America. That disconnect is also with the majority of mainstream media outlets (in TV the exception is Fox News), and university faculties. That is why your suggestion that the present government could kill the Democrat Party is not far-fetched. These people, just like Obama, most often only pretend to be moderates; so that their worst nightmare will be to realize their dreams, because it is at that point that they can no longer hide what it is they wanted all along.

I often thought that maybe one day, hope against hope, that the Democrat party would die, the blue dogs would join the Republicans and a third, true conservative party would rise up and compete with the left of centre Republican part. Apparently something like that is happening in Alberta today.