Perhaps Democrats regret using strong-arm tactics

Perhaps the Democrats are starting to realize that pushing health care through on a procedural loophole against the vigorously expressed will of the people wasn't such a great idea after all.

Long before health care was passed, or began to unravel, it became apparent that this bill would be a disaster for the party that passed it, a bomb that blew up in the hands of its maker, destroying not only the party in question, but the political climate, the trust of the voters, and the political discourse for cycles to come.

“A majority of voters in key battleground districts favor repeal of the … overhaul,” the Hill said last week, citing a poll of swing House districts by Democratic pollster Mark Penn. As Penn concluded, “Republicans strongly oppose it, independents are wary of it, and a surprising number of Democrats want it overturned.”

In these districts, 56 percent of all voters favored repeal, as did 54 percent of independents, as did undecideds by a 49-27 percent margin, as did 23 percent (or almost one-fourth) of all Democrats. In other words, “In each district, a majority of those surveyed said they want the controversial law gone.”

What these figures mean is that in the next Congress and in the next cycle these voters will have large numbers of people in office ready and willing to give them their wish. At the same time, 21 states are filing law suits against it; in state elections voters are voting against it; and bad news surprises — soaring premiums and coverage being dropped by employers and companies — are coming out every day.

As a result, we are seeing something unique in our history: an uprising of voters trying in every way possible to roll back an act that was always unpopular, and was passed by means most people think of as borderline legal, and without legitimacy in any sense of the word.

Whether people object to the act or the way it was passed is a moot question, as the answer is “both of them.” And its chances of surviving in the form it was passed in grow less and less every day.

Perhaps Democrats should have spent less time trying to buy and bully their members into stiffing their voters, and more time trying to build up the public's support.

Perhaps when the Tea Parties began, they should have tried to pre-empt or defuse them, and not dismiss them as racists and “Astroturf.” Perhaps they shouldn't have listened to liberal bloggers and listened instead to the voters.

Perhaps they should have paid heed to Virginia, which voted for Obama by 8 points, and for Gov. Bob McDonnell by 17, and to New Jersey, which went for Obama by 17 points, and went for Chris Christie by 5. Perhaps they should have listened to Massachusetts, where, in a state that went 26 years without a Republican voice in the Senate, Scott Brown won by 5 points on a pledge to kill the health care bill.

Perhaps they shouldn't have talked about deem and pass, or about passing the bill before reading it.

Perhaps Nancy Pelosi shouldn't have marched through the crowd with an oversized gavel and an ear-to-ear grin. Perhaps she shouldn't have taken the black caucus with her, hoping to provoke what could have passed for an incident, and, when nothing happened, called the crowd racist anyhow.

Perhaps they should have known that an act people loathe is an endangered species; and that passing a bill without public support is not merely wrong, but is playing with fire.

Perhaps they are learning it now.

Examiner Columnist Noemie Emery is contributing editor to the Weekly Standard and author of “Great Expectations: The Troubled Lives of Political Families.”

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