Democrats in Washington are determined to ram their agenda through Congress and -- possibly as soon as this weekend -- transform national health care from liberal dream into legislative reality. To do so, they are willing to ignore:
• Public opinion. Large majorities of Americans continue to oppose the health care plan; as of March 8, Rasmussen reported 53 percent against, including 41 percent who strongly oppose. A recent CNN poll found only 25 percent of Americans in favor of the plan, while the balance favor Congress starting over or scrapping work on health care altogether.
But never mind the noisy din of the rabble; the Democrats have convinced themselves that the public is too stupid to know what is good for them, and that once the bill passes, Congress will be showered with thanks from a grateful nation that suddenly will have discovered what wonders the Democrats have bestowed on them. Has there ever been a more reckless, delusional disregard for public opinion in the history of our democracy?
• Their own political futures. The disregard for the public's strong opposition will of course have terrible political consequences. As Patrick Caddell and Douglas Schoen, pollsters for the last two Democratic presidents, recently warned in TheWashington Post: "Democrats are pursuing policies that are out of step with the way ordinary Americans think and feel about politics and government. Barring some change of approach, they will be punished severely at the polls." How severely? An "unmitigated disaster" awaits Democrats in November, predict the pollsters, and they are not alone. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid don't care; they seem perfectly willing to sacrifice the political lives of their foot soldiers (and in Mr. Reid's case, his own political career) for the sake of health care reform.
• The Constitution. Remember that part in the Constitution that gives the federal government the power to force you to buy something, under threat of fine or jail? No? Oh, that must be because the Constitution contains no such odious provision; in fact, it's a fair bet that the fellows who gathered in Philadelphia in the summer of 1787 would have reacted to such a suggestion with a mixture of horror and laughter.
But never mind. Nancy Pelosi responds to a question from a journalist about the constitutionality of the individual mandate with, "Are you serious? Are you serious?" You can understand her incredulity; imagine, an American journalist daring to bring up something so frivolous and antiquated as the United States Constitution! What a fool.
• Our untenable fiscal situation. Greece and other European countries are teetering on the brink of societal collapse due to years of profligate fiscal policy. Our own nation is right on track to follow suit: , In February, the United States racked up a record $221 billion in debt, the 17th straight month that the federal government produced shameful deficits.
Can we be frank? We are worse than dead broke. We are bankrupt. And yet, the Democrats claim they can compel, expand and subsidize health coverage to 30 million more Americans and not make things worse. Does anybody in Washington really believe this? Perhaps, but in the rest of the country, this is seen for precisely what it is: insanity.
If the Democrats are willing to ignore the public, their own political futures, the Constitution and the nation's empty coffers in pursuit of their health care chimera, my question is this: What won't they ignore? What legal, moral and political stricture won't they bend, break or disregard? In short: What won't they do? A ruling party willing to ignore these things can conceivably ignore anything. The thought sends chills down my spine, for from such seeds are the flowers of tyranny often sown.
That our governing class would seek to create another trillion-dollar entitlement, even as our state and national governments are awash in red ink as never before and our children are shouldered with unshakable debt before they are even born is more than just disgraceful. It is terrifying.
Matt Patterson, a Montgomery County resident, is a policy analyst for the National Center For Public Policy Research and a National Review Institute Washington Fellow. His e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.