On the health care bill that will or won't pass tonight, I forfeited my crystal-ball punditry card after Scott Brown won Teddy Kennedy's old Senate seat, responding whenever asked that reform was officially dead and the only real endgame now was managing the public relations failure in a way to maximize political advantage for November. Even if the thing doesn't pass tonight, that analysis will be wrong. So don't ask me what will happen if it does.
Instead, ask Michael Flynn! Flynn is Reason's former director of government affairs, a longtime political observer/operator, and now editor in chief of Andrew Breitbart's BigGovernment.com. And he predicts…pain:
[T]oday's vote isn't the end, but just a new beginning in the debate over health care. Buckle up, because if they manage to cobble together enough votes to pass the Senate Health Bill today, we're set for weeks and perhaps months of a constitutional and political crisis the likes of which we haven't seen in our lifetimes.
In a matter of hours after House passage of the Senate Bill, the state of Virginia will file suit in federal court. The Commonwealth will be joined in the suit by a dozen other states. I expect a flood of additional lawsuits. The suits will be based on the provision that requires every American to purchase health insurance. (This is how the Dems 'crack down' on the insurance industry; by requiring everyone to buy its product?) Because this is an individual mandate, virtually every American has standing to file suit against this provision. Also, it is in direct conflict with state law in at least two states, Idaho and Virginia.
While the legal battles wage on, expect an enormous public backlash against the Democrats. Longtime political observers will recall the backlash after Democrats passed a "catastrophic health care" bill in the 80s. That event pales in comparison to what is brewing. Yesterday, around 30,000 people protested on the steps of the Capitol, an event that was organized in just a little over 24 hours. In cities throughout the country, protests and rallies broke out, each attended by hundreds of citizens with only a few hours notice. This kind of spontaneous public outcry has never happened in any of our lifetimes. Today, many of these protesters are buoyed by a faith that reason will prevail and the Democrats will stand down from their position of willful disdain for the American people. If that doesn't happen tonight, then we will have fallen into totally unchartered territory. It is without hyperbole that I say I am at times afraid of what may ensue.
I have told my Democrat friends–yes, I have many–that they are missing the simple fact that people are really scared today. The economy is nowhere close to recovering and, in some places, may be getting worse. Millions of people have been unemployed for a very long time and untold millions more live in fear of it. Spending, deficits and debt have grown beyond the hypothetical world of economists and into a realm that the average person understands. Against this, the Democrats are now steaming towards the greatest expansion in government ever and, more importantly, into the part of our lives that commands our deepest fears, our health and mortality. That they have done so in an openly corrupt manner, with side deals, special exemptions, special interest favors and patronage (a judgeship, really?), betrays a contempt for the legislative and political process that is almost unfathomable. Worse, they raise the specter that the government is an interest, separate, distinct and opposed to the people.
The Democrats cannot do this. Sure, they may get the votes to pass the Senate bill tonight, but ultimately they will be defeated. A representative democracy cannot long endure a political class that is so out of touch with the populace. In some respects, what happens tonight is almost beside the point. The politics are set. Some Democrats are deluding themselves that they can put this behind them and somehow survive in November. They are most assuredly wrong.