Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Bleeding Health Care?

Darn it! I was thinking about comparing the ObamaCare health care bill to the Kansas-Nebraska Act, but Michael Barone has beat me to it!

Of course, the Kansas-Nebraska Act was the effort of the Democrats in 1854 to extend slavery northwards to Kansas and Nebraska, if the settlers wanted it.

Sen. Stephen Douglas (D-IL) thought that he was cooling the heat of the slavery question with this act, but instead he fanned the flames of the slavery issue into Bleeding Kansas and a civil war.

The Republican Party was created in angry response to run-up to the Kansas-Nebraska Act. It won 46 seats (from zero) in the House of Representatives in the elections of 1854.

The election of 1854 was a maelstrom. The American Party (the anti-immigrant "Know Nothings") won 62 seats (from zero) and the Democratic Party lost 73 seats, going from 157 seats to 84 seats. The Whigs lost 11 seats. The Dems and the American Party formed a coalition. At that time there were only 252 seats in the House.

(The problem for the new Republicans--against slavery and for truth, justice, and the American Way--was that the Democrats picked up 48 seats in 1856 while they picked up 44, so the Democrats still ran the House. It wasn't until 1858 that the Republicans became the largest party in the House, and 1860 that the Republicans became the majority party. They actually lost seats in 1860 and became the majority party because the southern states seceded.)

Michael Barone thinks that ObamaCare might be a rerun. We don't know how unpopular the Kansas Nebraska Act was. No polling in those days. But we know how unpopular ObamaCare is.

On the health care bill, there can be little doubt about public opinion. Quinnipiac, polling just after the Senate voted cloture, found Americans opposed by a 53 percent to 36 percent margin. Polls suggest that Democrats may suffer as much carnage in the 2010 elections as they did in 1854.

So let's make the comparisons. Barely a month after President Obama was inaugurated a new popular political movement, the Tea Party began to erupt, in direct opposition to his agenda. There happens to be a popular political figure rather similar to Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln was a rough-hewn, ill-educated politician, with little experience, from the frontier state of Illinois. Sarah Palin is a rough-hewn politician from the frontier state of Alaska. And so on.

Of course, nobody can know what will transpire next year--or beyond. The Democrats seem to think that President Obama's popularity will go to 60 percent when the American people find out what is in the bill.

But I do like the idea of Democrats losing 73 seats in the House. Wow. That would teach someone a lesson.

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