Big picture

One of my favorite things about Matt Yglesias is his tendency to look beyond petty and transient political disputes to the bigger picture.  I think he does a great job on this post about how voting for health care reform may have hurt the Democratic majority:

I would, however, add the obvious point that passing important laws is thereason you try to win elections in the first place so I don’t think “you might lose the next election” is ever a very good reason to avoid passing one.

If you want to look at a really poor use of a congressional majority, try to recall the 109th Congress of 2005-2006. You probably can’t remember it because they didn’t do anything. And the Republicans lost their majority anyway. Or maybe they lost their majority because they didn’t do anything. Either way, they didn’t do anything and the nature of political majorities is that they all vanish sooner or later. Suppose they’d done something better and had held on for two more years to do nothing as the 110th Congress. What would have happened then? Well, they would have lost in 2008, right? So . . . so what?

Now obviously you don’t want to risk a congressional majority over something trivial. But the Affordable Care Act is not a trivial law. It’s one of the most important laws of the past thirty years. So then the question becomes, was it important in a good way? I think it was. And that’s the job of a congressional majority—to pass important bills that change the world for the better.

Yep.  Come Tuesday, many Democrats who voted for ACA will be voted out.  They can at least take pride in helping pass historic legislation which will genuinely help millions of Americans.  On that same day, many Democrats who voted against ACA (Larry Kissell? Mike McIntyre?) will also lose their jobs, but what will they have to show for it.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

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