Monday, March 22, 2010

Six Reasons For Conservatives to Smile

Last night, conservatives lost a major battle in the fight for limited government. There’s really no way to sugar coat that fact. This health care monstrosity will be nearly impossible to repeal and even if the federal mandate forcing every American to purchase health insurance is found to be unconstitutional, we are still left with a new, massive entitlement that will result in higher taxes, higher insurance premiums and a lower quality of health care for the vast majority of Americans. Today, conservatives are despondent and with good cause.

But we put up an amazing fight. We did absolutely everything we could do to keep America from treading down the incredibly short-sighted path to more government control of our nation’s health care system. But, in the end, we had to bow to the realities of an overwhelming Democratic congressional majority and a Speaker of the House who is gifted at convincing her Democratic colleagues to fall in line and who has no qualms about handing out goodies to those who need some extra persuading.

However, while Democrats celebrate, there are reasons for conservatives to be thankful and hopeful on this dark day for the country that most Americans know and love. Since the health care issue became the focus of the national conversation more than a year ago Conservatives have made incredible gains in terms of the popularity of their ideas and have succeeded in dramatically changing the terms of the entire debate concerning the role of government. This bodes extremely well for us in future elections and very poorly for the future of the Democratic Party and of the progressive movement in the United States. Here is a list of some of the things that Conservatives can be happy about on a day when many of us are feeling hopelessly depressed.

1.The Health Care Bill Contains No “Public Option.”

At the beginning of this fight, the idea of a government-run insurance company that would “compete” with private insurers was the centerpiece of the Democratic health care plan. Of course, the goal was never to increase “competition.” It was to drive the private insurance companies out of business. Anyone with a third grade understanding of basic economics knows that there’s no way a private insurer could have survived when faced with a government competitor that didn’t have to worry about making a profit. The goal all along was to use the public option to achieve a single-payer health care system. Many Democrats admitted as much.

The expansion of the Medicaid entitlement, the new taxes and the onerous new regulations that will be placed on the private insurers will be painful and will damage the nation’s ability to grow economically. But, a public option leading to single-payer would have done far more damage, permanently stymieing the exceptional American economic engine which has made our economy the envy of the world for the past three decades. Additionally, single payer systems inevitable result in increased rationing and huge declines in the quality of care. America dodged a bullet when the public option died.

2.Conservatives won the policy debate.

The fact that the bill was opposed by a majority of Americans from the summer of 2009 until its passage was not a result of Republican misinformation as the Democrats would like you to believe. In fact, the American people turned against the plan despite the steady stream of misinformation about the bill’s effects that came from Barack Obama and his allies and which were intended to bamboozle the electorate into supporting it.

At every turn, the majority of the American people saw right through all of it. When the President claimed the bill would lower costs, the American people understood that this defied logic. When Democrats repeatedly claimed that it would lower the deficit, only the most dedicated Obamabot believed this to be possible. The Left’s claim that our health care system was equivalent to that of a Third World nation and that more government intervention was required to help us catch up with the “civilized” world was an easily disproved canard.

The overwhelming victory that conservatives achieved in the policy debate was a triumph of facts over talking points. The superiority of our side’s argument was exhibited repeatedly from threads on blogs and Facebook to the square table at Blair House where Paul Ryan made the President cringe in frustration as he was presented with his own misstatements. In the end, our arguments forced the Democrats to pass an unpopular bill and has put them at risk of losing the House of Representatives in the coming November elections—a possibility that was unthinkable a year ago. It also destroyed much of President Obama’s credibility and the moderate image of a post-partisan figure that he had worked so hard to cultivate among independent voters during the 2008 election cycle.

3.An informed, powerful conservative grassroots movement has been born.

One of the reasons that conservatives were so successful in winning the policy debate was because they became engaged at the grassroots level in an unprecedented way. For the first time in political history, regular everyday folks were actually reading thousands of pages of mundane legislation to try and understand exactly what was in it. On talk radio and in the blogosphere, it was clear that those who were once casual observers of the political process had acquired a fairly deep understanding of a very complicated issue.

While the Left’s argument never really went much further than to suggest that the expansion of government provided health care was the compassionate thing to do, those on the Right were explaining the economically damaging results of past government health care programs like Medicare and Medicaid, the failed experiments of systems in Canada, the U.K. and Massachusetts, the true ramifications of the public option and the questionable constitutionality of the nationwide insurance mandate.

When Obama tired to make doctors out to be soulless monsters controlled by greed who were taking out children’s tonsils unnecessarily in order to make a quick buck, conservatives countered by explaining that the reason doctors often perform unnecessary procedures is because they are protecting themselves against the possibility of expensive and often frivolous malpractice lawsuits.

The Democrats key assertion that insurance industry greed was the primary cause of high insurance premiums was easily disproved and conservatives across the country shot emails to their liberal friends and family members showing that the insurance industry is not really that profitable at all, bringing in only about 3 pennies on the dollar in annual profits and ranking 87th in terms of their profitability among all American industry’s.

When Democrats touted the CBO numbers claiming that their trillion dollar health care legislation actually “reduced” the deficit, conservatives pointed out how Democrats dishonestly manipulated the numbers by double counting the dollars being spent and through budget gimmickry like hiding the Medicare “doctor fix” in a separate bill.

On point after point, in debate after debate, conservatives got the better of their unprepared liberal opponents. This occurred because conservatives and many independents made an unprecedented effort to educate themselves on the health care issue. The conservative side of the electorate is now more engaged and paying closer attention to policy debates in Washington than ever before. Add that to their seemingly endless supply of energy and persistence and you have a new conservative activist base that is truly a force to be reckoned with.

4.The length of the debate was a huge setback for the Democrats.

Remember how the Democrats wanted to have health care reform done by June of 2009? That didn’t really work out so well. Because of the unanimous conservative opposition to the bill and the conservative movement’s ability to convince the majority of Americans that the Democrat’s proposals were not beneficial to the country as a whole, the debate dragged on and on. Had the Democrats successfully passed a bill last summer, they would have had nine extra months in which to move on to other issues like “Cap & Trade” and immigration reform. Democrats would have not suffered the damage that the extended debate caused them in the polls and they would have likely made quite a bit of headway in achieving parts two, three and four of their liberal agenda. There would have been no Scott Brown. No angry town halls and the Tea Party movement would have never become as powerful as it is today.

Now, seven months before the mid-term elections, the Democrats would have to be completely suicidal to bring up another of their controversial agenda items in this heated political environment. Can you imagine what would happen if we spent this summer debating amnesty for illegal immigrants? All hell would break loose and the Democrats would almost certainly lose Congress.

Additionally, even without another protracted policy fight, it is almost certain that the G.O.P will make significant gains in both the House and the Senate come November. Given the unity exhibited by the Republican caucus over the past year, it is almost impossible that the Democrats will be capable of getting any more of Obama’s leftist agenda enacted once their majorities have been trimmed. This could perhaps be the case for the remainder of Obama’s term in office.

5.Obama is not as charismatic or convincing as we once thought.

Perhaps conservatives underestimated Nancy Pelosi’s ability to push legislation through Congress. But it looks as though we dramatically overestimated Barack Obama’s ability to sell his policy ideas to the American people. At the beginning of the debate, Americans had overwhelmingly positive feelings about both the President and health care reform. By Christmas, a majority of Americans opposed the Democrats’ proposal and Obama’s personal approval rating was 15% points lower than it had been after his inauguration despite the fact that Obama had dedicated the better part of the year to speeches and interviews touting his health care reform package. In fact, the Rassmussen polling firm recently cited the fact that every time Obama made a major push for the legislation, his approval rating fell and the numbers in favor of Obamacare remained stagnant.

It would appear that what was once thought to be Obama’s greatest asset, his communication skills and his seeming ability to convince vast swaths of the electorate that excrement tastes good, are not the threats to the conservative cause that we once thought them to be. Obama and his enablers in the media will undoubtedly tout the passage of health care reform as a huge victory for Obama. However, the evidence suggests that the plan passed despite Obama, not because of him. It is truly remarkable just how ineffective the President’s arguments in favor off health care reform were in convincing the electorate to adopt his goals as their own. Conservatives no longer have any reason to be intimidated by Obama’s once legendary rhetorical abilities.

6.The Republican Party is Conservative Again.

Finally, conservatives nationwide should be extremely happy with the congressional Republicans’ ability to stand together unanimously against headwinds that seemed impossible to navigate only a year ago. They fought tooth and nail against the health care monstrosity from the beginning to the end. Devout conservatives like Tom Coburn and John Boehner stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the likes of John McCain, Lindsey Graham and others whose dedication to the conservative cause has been repeatedly questioned by the base for years. They did so for two reasons.

First, every Republican was antithetically opposed to this government power grab. For the past year, conservatives have justifiably denounced the G.O.P for its free spending ways during the Bush administration. But when faced with the prospect of enacting a full-out undiluted government entitlement, their conservative instincts kicked in and they didn’t budge.

Second, and most importantly, it showed that G.O.P. leaders have heard the message that has been sent by the vast majority of conservative Americans over the past two years--that we expect them to be real conservatives, not RINOs; that we demand that they exhibit a true dedication to principles of limited government, deficit reduction and the ideals set down in our nation’s founding documents.

A little over a year ago, moderate Republicans like Colin Powell and David Brooks were telling us that if the G.O.P. did not moderate and start behaving more like Democrats, who had been victorious in 2006 and 2008, our party would almost certainly become irrelevant, enjoying only limited regional power. It is now obvious that these predictions completely misjudged the true ideological leanings of the American majority. So while the arrival of Obamacare gives us reason to mourn, what has ensued over the year-long battle that we waged against it give us a number of reasons to be incredibly optimistic about the future of our country and the future of the conservative movement.

-Dan Joseph

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Chris Conlee said...

Nice blog, Dan. I, too, have a conservative blog, and I applaud your quick recovery. I've been so damn shell-shocked that I haven't found the footing to get another blog up. But the bile is rising fast, and I feel another dose of indignation kicking in. You're right. We're right. And November can't get here fast enough so the whole country can once again be right. Keep up the good fight.

Chris Conlee

commoncents said...

THANK YOU for posting this! I love your blog!!

Common Cents

ps. Link Exchange???