The long-term effects of bungling health care

As health care legislation spirals downwards towards (at least partial) failure, I think it's important to start looking at not just how this will affect the current Congress, but also the long-term effects on the 2010 and 2012 elections. And a lot of this circles back to the so-called "enthusiasm gap" which the Dems dominated in the last two elections.

We had millions of people who spent countless hours volunteering for both Obama and congressional candidates all across the country. We'd had enough of Bush, and we wanted control of the White House back. We wanted to give him a Democratic majority in the Senate (since no one in the media seems to acknowledge that 60 votes are now required to pass any legislation, but that's an issue for another day), and widen the gap even further in the House. We busted our ass to get this all done, and we succeeded.

Once we did that, we expected that our party would use its majority standing to implement a more liberal agenda. One that would undo the wrongs of the previous administration, get our economy back on track, and most importantly reform healthcare for this country.

Instead, what we're seeing in the healthcare debate is a bill that seems to be getting watered down slowly but surely. Republicans that have absolutely no interest in getting a bill passed are, for some unknown reason, being allowed to have massive input into how any reform bill gets constructed. Townhall meetings are being hijacked by right-wing extremists, but there seems to be no organized Dem response to their ridiculous statements.

As we all watch this mess unfold, I really think a lot of the volunteers that worked so hard on the campaigns are going to start saying to themselves, "we caved on key aspects of the stimulus bill, we don't have Don't Ask Don't Tell repealed, Gitmo hasn't been shut down, torture hasn't been completely ruled out, and now we might not get a decent healthcare bill? What the hell did I do all this work for"?

And if that happens, we're in deep shit. Our volunteers put in the work to get these candidates elected (and don't think that canvassing doesn't make a difference in swaying votes, because it does) because we wanted thing to change. We lose the enthusiasm, we lose the advantage, and then the opportunity to get real change implemented is lost.

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