“This is an historic mistake. And unlike Social Security, Medicare and civil rights legislation, the only thing bipartisan about it is the opposition to it."
UPDATE: Paul Rahe has some thoughts on this subject:
Abraham Lincoln once observed, “Public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it nothing can succeed.” It is possible, of course, that events will intervene between now and November. It is conceivable that the healthcare bill and the manner in which it was passed in both the Senate and the House will be forgotten. But this is not likely. If the Republicans stick together, mount a principled opposition to the Obama administration on all fronts, and recruit first-rate candidates to run in every district at both the state and the federal levels in November, it is highly likely that there will be a political earthquake in this country on a scale not seen since 1932.
As I have argued now for months – first, in August, here; then, in November, here and here; and, more recently, here, here, and here – a genuine political realignment may be in the offing. This has happened at irregular intervals in our nation’s past – most notably, in 1800, 1828, 1860, and 1932 – and on each occasion the political party benefiting from the upheaval was able to paint a plausible picture depicting their opponents as being parties to a conspiracy to overthrow the liberties possessed by their fellow Americans. This is what Thomas Jefferson did to the Federalists in and after 1800; it was what Andrew Jackson did to John Quincy Adams, Henry Clay, Nicholas Biddle, and the Whigs in and after 1828; it was what Abraham Lincoln and the Republicans did to the slave power conspiracy and its fellow travelers in the North in and after 1860, and it was what Franklin Delano Roosevelt did to Herbert Hoover and the business-minded progressives in and after 1932. When FDR claimed, at the 1936 Democratic convention, that “a small group” of his fellow Americans was intent on concentrating “into their own hands an almost complete control over other people’s property, other people’s money, other people’s labor – other people’s lives,” he was merely rephrasing the charges lodged in an earlier time by Jefferson, Jackson, Lincoln, and their political allies.
Of course, one cannot plausibly advance such a claim except in circumstances where one has a great deal of help from one’s opponents. In 1800, Jefferson profited from the quarrel pitting Alexander Hamilton against John Adams, and by exhibiting secessionist propensities at the Hartford Convention, the New England Federalists destroyed their own party. Something similar can be said regarding Nicholas Biddle and the supporters of the Second National Bank. The same is true for the supporters of the slave power in and after 1860, and Herbert Hoover was in similar fashion a godsend for FDR.
If the Republicans have a comparable opportunity in 2010 and 2012, it is because of what I described in my very first blogpost as “Obama’s Tyrannical Ambition.” Barack Obama has a gift. He has told us so himself, and he is right, but he errs in supposing that his oratorical skill will enable him to fool all of the people all of the time, and over time he has, in effect, unmasked his own party as a conspiracy on the part of a would-be aristocracy of do-gooders hostile to very idea of self-government in the United States. There is no need for me to review the record of the Obama administration and the Democratic Congress in the last fifteen months. It is enough to say that, in an administration that promised transparency, everything has been negotiated behind closed doors in a manner suggestive of tyranny and that, in an administration that promised to distance itself from the lobbyists, every major bill has been written by them and is loaded with special deals that give new meaning to the old phrase “corrupt bargain.” The stimulus bill, cap-and-trade, healthcare reform: with these Barack Obama, Rahm Emanuel, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid have brought home to the American people, as never before, the tyrannical propensities inherent in the progressive impulse. Thanks to them, everyone now knows that there is no such thing as a moderate Democrat.