James Taranto: Why ObamaCare Makes Us Nostalgic for the Cold WarRoundup: Media's Take
Well, they did it to us. By a vote of 219-212, the House late last night passed the Senate's ObamaCare bill, sending it to the president for his signature. Wisely, the Democrats who run the House dispensed with the bizarre "deem and pass" tactic and voted on the bill directly, depriving ObamaCare foes of what would have been a strong procedural objection....
...ObamaCare will further destabilize American politics. This would be a continuation of a trend that dates to the last major political inflection point: the end of the Cold War.
With 20 years' hindsight, it now seems clear that the Cold War's end had a profoundly unsettling effect on American domestic politics. In the latter half of the Cold War--between 1968 and 1992--we had a fairly stable regime of divided government: Democrats ran Congress; Republicans held the White House....
In 1992, the first post-Cold War presidential election, economic anxiety suddenly mattered much more than national security. Voters rejected a Republican incumbent with a strong foreign-policy record in favor of a Democrat with no foreign-policy experience. The Democrats still had big majorities in Congress, and it looked like a new liberal era was dawning. Sound familiar?
The ensuing 18 years have seen both parties make repeated comebacks, only to suffer setbacks. The permanent Democratic House majority came to an end two years after the new liberal era began. Bill Clinton looked as if he was finished, but of course he wasn't. We saw an impeachment of a president and a disputed presidential election--two events with precedent, but not in living memory. The attacks of 9/11 brought national security back to the fore, so that after the 2004 election Republicans thought they had attained a permanent majority. By 2006, voters were convinced Republicans were incompetent and the Democrats had regained their majority. Then Barack Obama and another new liberal era. And so it goes....
During the debate over the Iraq war, we sometimes puzzled over left-wing nostalgia for the Cold War--expressed, for example, as a desire to "contain" Saddam Hussein's regime rather than get rid of it. How could anyone long for an era in which the threat of nuclear war was ever-present and hundreds of millions of people suffered under totalitarian regimes?
But the Cold War did impose a certain stability on American politics. It constrained our leaders from doing reckless things like bullying through a takeover of one-sixth of the economy--or, for those of a different political outlook, getting involved in a shooting war in the Middle East. This November Democrats seem likely to pay a heavy price for their recklessness. Assuming the Republicans do make a comeback, we hope it isn't too much to ask for a little self-restraint for a change.
comments powered by Disqus
Constance Goforth - 4/1/2010
The key for Obama is to package things in an attractive manner... For the price of liberty, you get not only healthcare reform, but a National ID card!
Interesting to see the resistance building though: http://rubylee1776.wordpress.com/2010/03/31/big-brother-demands-to-see-your-national-id-card/
- Ben Carson defends linking gun control to the Holocaust
- Secret CIA Report: Pinochet "Personally Ordered" Washington Car-Bombing
- Mike Huckabee’s 1998 Book Is Full Of Fake Quotes From America’s Founders
- Children should be taught about suffering under the British Empire, Jeremy Corbyn says
- Collateral damage: A brief history of U.S. mistakes at war
- NYT History Book Reviews: Who Got Noticed this Week?
- NC student’s senior thesis selected as top paper sheds light on little-known victory over Jim Crow
- Historian Who Probed Austria’s Nazi Past Begins Sentence for Defrauding State
- Daniel Pipes says we should be worried that immigrants don’t share western values
- Nobel Prize in Literature Awarded to journalist Svetlana Alexievich