Conservatives and other opponents of ObamaCare have been flapping on about "consent of the governed" as the Democrats twist this way and that to get out of their box canyon.
Michael Barone has just summed up the Dems' problem pretty well. So let's go with it. He writes of three cases to consider when trying to pass legislation:
You can pass popular legislation on party-line votes, and you usually get some support from the other side, even if unsolicited.
The Dems passed Medicare on this basis, and on final passage they picked up Republican votes. But what about unpopular legislation? The way to do it is the method used to pass the TARP bailout of the banks.
TARP was passed, after one misfire in the House, by bipartisan coalitions of members of both parties with safe seats. Members of both parties with vulnerable seats, with only a few exceptions, were left to protect themselves by voting against it.
But, of course, that is not the strategy being used by the Dems to pass ObamaCare. They thought they could ram it through on a party-line vote. Probably, they thought, a year ago, that they would be able to swing public opinion their way and bully the Republicans into voting for it. But they failed to move public opinion. In fact, every time that ObamaCare gets into the news the president's approval numbers go down, as yesterday when the president hit -21 on the bellwhether Rasmussen Poll. The poll for the last few months has shown steady erosion in the president's strong supporters.
There's a reason it's hard to pass unpopular legislation on party-line votes. It's not the Senate rules. It's called democracy.
In other words, if you are trying to pass unpopular legislation and the opposition thinks that it is a bad idea and the American people also think that it's a bad idea you really have a problem.
Let's rehearse this into a simple set of rules.
- Governing elite split, American people in favor: Pass
- Governing elite united, American people opposed: Pass
- Governing elite split: American people split: Pass
- Governing elite split, Americn people opposed: Problem!
The Democrats are now trying to solve their problem by proposing to pass ObamaCare without even having a vote in the House. They are considering a rule in the House to "deem" it passed.
My advice to Dems. Don't do it. You cannot imagine the rage you will provoke if you try to get ObamaCare through by cheating. As the French 68ers said years ago, the whole point of bourgeois democracy is the process. It's the process that keeps people from forming a head of rebellion. Smash the process and you smash your legitimacy.