January 2nd, 2011 | Published in Current Events
I recently discovered that the New Yorker has a bunch of free podcasts that you can download back episodes of in the iTunes store, the most interesting of which is called “The Political Scene”, a monthly conversation about American politics hosted by the magazine’s executive editor, Dorothy Wickendon.
One of the things I have soaked up from the podcasts is that there are a bunch of reasons that the Democrats lost so many seats in Congress in the midterm elections. Everybody seems to think the biggest reason is the persistent shittyness of the economy, combined with a general “lack of trust” in the government (mostly due to the bailout which seemed to favor banks over common people) and a feeling that Congress in general has been ineffective.
One thing that strikes me that could also be a big reason is that one of the biggest pieces of legislation that the Democrats have managed to pass since Obama took office has been health care reform, which has from the start been a great program that seems destined to truly help tens of millions of people and make America a fairer and better place to live, but unfortunately just seems really hard to get excited about. Whenever I think of health care reform I think, yeah, that’s awesome, now we will finally have what Canadians have had for decades, it’s about time…but I also think, damn, now I’m going to have to pay for health care in the future whether I want to or not. I think bills and paperwork and headaches…even though I know this is the right thing, I’m happy this happened, this is definitely what I wanted and this is why I voted for Obama.
This is the opposite of the effect of something like, say, the Iraq War had for the Republican base. Even though it disgusted many of those of us on the left, it definitely got the rocks off of most of the people who went on American-flag shopping sprees after September 11th. It was decidedly polarizing, a rock-star-excitement moment for hawks and a moment of fear and despair for doves.
Healthcare is maybe somewhere near as historic as Bush’s war, but nobody is on their lawn Yosemite Samming over it. There are just some of us quietly thanking Obama, and then a bunch of insurance men in suits running all over the place trying to shut it down.
I guess that doesn’t play so well for Democrats come election day.