As the months go on, will Republicans pay a political price for their strategy to completely reject health care reform while appeasing and nurturing the vitriolic and bigoted elements of the Tea Party movement?
Could Republicans even lose support here in Oklahoma, which has become a museum of dead ideologies and an unparalleled anti-Obama haven? Could the issue at least eventually divide Republicans here?
These questions may seem counter intuitive given the fact GOP leaders here and elsewhere are confidently predicting a major sweep in the 2010 elections, but consider this: People are going to like the components of the health care reform bill that go into effect immediately, the Barack Obama presidency has been strengthened politically by the bill’s passage and Democratic Party, for all its fractiousness, now actually seems effective, at least when compared to the hapless, do-nothing GOP.
For now, Republicans continue their circus-like tirades for the media, hoping to jell together a voting coalition based on irrational anger and fear, but I bet people are going to like the fact they can find insurance even if they have a preexisting conditions. We know Americans like a winner, and the bill’s passage was a huge win for Obama. The Democratic Party has also reignited its base, even though many progressives wanted a public insurance option in the bill or single-payer, universal care health care.
Let’s be clear: The Democratic Party is the party that gets major things done in this country, from creating Social Security and Medicare to passing landmark civil rights legislation to remaking the nation’s health care system to make it more affordable and accessible.
In an email message to supporters Tuesday right before he signed the recently passed bill, Obama wrote about the health care bill benefits that begin this year:
Small businesses will receive significant tax cuts, this year, to help them afford health coverage for all their employees.
Seniors will receive a rebate to reduce drug costs not yet covered under Medicare.
Young people will be allowed coverage under their parents’ plan until the age of 26.
Early retirees will receive help to reduce premium costs.
Children will be protected against discrimination on the basis of medical history.
Uninsured Americans with pre-existing conditions can join a special high-risk pool to get the coverage they need, starting in just 90 days.
Insured Americans will be protected from seeing their insurance revoked when they get sick, or facing restrictive annual limits on the care they receive.
All Americans will benefit from significant new investments to train primary care doctors, nurses, and public health professionals, and the creation of state-level consumer assistance programs to help all patients understand and defend our new rights.
Against these facts, the Republicans continue to allow their party to be shaped by right-wing radio and Tea Party rhetoric, which now includes racial epithets hurled at two black congressman during a recent protest.
On his blog, David Frum, a former speechwriter for George Bush, put it this way:
We followed the most radical voices in the party and the movement, and they led us to abject and irreversible defeat.
There were leaders who knew better, who would have liked to deal. But they were trapped. Conservative talkers on Fox and talk radio had whipped the Republican voting base into such a frenzy that deal-making was rendered impossible. How do you negotiate with somebody who wants to murder your grandmother? Or – more exactly – with somebody whom your voters have been persuaded to believe wants to murder their grandmother?
I think many Republicans must be worried the anti-Obama strategy will eventually backfire since it lacks substance and is primarily based on outlandish claims of “isms” as in socialism, communism and totalitarianism. With the passage of health care reform, the GOP now stands exposed.