You have to give the Democrats credit. They know that ObamaCare is unpopular. They know it is going to cost them seats in Congress. But they are going ahead anyway. And last night, Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) got the critical cloture vote he needed to pass ObamaCare through the United States Senate.
It's easy to sneer at "cash for cloture," the deals that Harry Reid has done to secure the last few votes for the watered-down ObamaCare. But the fact is that deals like that are always a last-minute feature of major legislation. This is not new or modern. Judas Iscariot needed thirty pieces of silver (probably a fortune back then) to betray the Son of God. What's a few hundred million to a senator? It's not as if it's Harry Reid's own money.
For conservatives the question is: What next? Is this just another step in the ongoing enlargement of government, the conversion of a free society into an administrative satrapy of the progressive educated elite? Or will this turn out to be a great turning point?
The answer to the question is: White women.
The Democratic coalition is a coalition of minorities, including, improbably, if you like, the biggest minority in the nation: white women. Up to now, white women have supported the Democratic agenda enough to keep the welfare state rolling forward.
It's easy to understand why. The modern welfare state advertises itself as woman's helper. It offers health care, education, and welfare, all of which are dear to every woman's heart, the resources she needs to care for her family.
But what if this wonderful help turns out to be a terrible mistake? Suppose government welfare turns out to destroy marriages and families among the poor? Suppose government education fails to educate and lazily "dumbs down" education to make life easier for teachers? Suppose that government healthcare becomes an indifferent bureaucratic machine, as it has in England and Canada, with Orwellian committees called NICE designed to limit care?
The task for conservatives is to persuade middle-class women to look the gift horse in the mouth, to realize, on closer inspection, that the winning proposition made by persuasive politicians is not good for women. It is not good for their young children. It is not good for their husbands. It is not good for their aging mothers.
Because, quite simply, a bureaucratic administrative state is necessarily a one-size-fits-all state. It is rigid and rational. It has nothing to do with love. It have nothing to do with compassion. It has nothing to do with caring. It is a creation of politics and power. And that has nothing to do with women and the way they experience their lives. Woman stands at the opposite pole from rigidity and rationalization. To a woman everything is unique, personal, and special: her life, her family, her children.
Perhaps the only person who can persuade women away from the welfare state will be a woman. Perhaps it must be a woman. Perhaps that woman is Governor Sarah Palin.