Centrist Democrats know what happened last time a popular young president failed in a massive push to reform the health-care system and lost his high public approval in the process. A historic number of centrist Democrats lost their jobs. More than 50 of them, in fact. Liberals, conversely, kept their seats, because their seats are safe.
The central political reality of health-care reform is that if the bill fails, the vulnerable centrists who are queasiest about supporting it will be the casualties of its collapse.
Here’s a link to the Blue Dogs page! I’m emailing them a link to this with the relevant passage highlighted. I suggest you do something similar. (Hat tip.) I recommend you email them with your own, personalized spin on this.
This really cannot be driven home to the Democrats enough. They already suffer from a media-and-somewhat-truth-based reputation of being total weiners, and rolling over on health care when they have a 60 member Senate majority and the House and the Presidency isn’t go to do much to overturn that idea. For better or worse, the public doesn’t enjoy voting for weiners. They may even enjoy voting for members of the party that were able to shut this down despite being shut out of power. That’s not a rational reaction, of course, but no one said that voters were rational people.
On a more serious note: The declining popularity of health care reform in the polls shouldn’t be taken as a reason to abandon it or weaken it. People are enthusiastic about health care reform if they’re not dwelling on a bunch of right wing lies about it. They were enthusiastic about it before the recess gave the nuts time to scare the public, and if they’re polled honestly about it, with educated questions instead of push polls, they still like it. If health care reform passes and it’s not a bullshit bill, but a real attempt to address the issue, it’s not like the public will respond by saying, “Oh those Democrats made health insurance cheaper and more reliable! Fuck them!” Well, except for the 25%-ers. All these fears about Medicare, for instance, will evaporate once the bill is passed and Medicare turns out to be just fine.
And while I know this seems hard to fathom, if the health care bill doesn’t pass, I’m fairly certain that Republicans will blame Democrats and use that in their campaigns. Yes, it’s the “why are you kicking yourself?” method of campaigning, but don’t put it past them, seriously. They are, after all, willing to deceive the public about where Medicare comes from, and they have nearly 40% of the voters behind them on the “keep government out of Medicare” bullshit. They pay no price for lying. And really, if they run sob story ads about people who couldn’t afford to keep their health insurance, and then blame the Democrats, what would anyone be able to do to stop them?
That said, I’m not entirely sure that I trust that poll’s accuracy. It strikes me as close to a push poll to ask people if the government should stay out of Medicare. A lot of people polled probably were like, “Huh?” It’s hard to give an accurate answer when the premise of the question is bullshit. If you polled people and asked, “Do you think your spouse should butt out of your marriage?”, you might get similarly nonsensical answers.
But still, this sort of data reassures Republicans that lying can result in nothing but pure win for them. Since there’s no downside to lying for them, the only thing the Democrats can do to cover their asses is to pass good bills and take credit for them. Anything short is partisan suicide.