Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Government by the People

Sometimes the people are really stupid. Sometimes conventional wisdom, deeply ingrained prejudice, and sheer laziness cause the majority of the US electorate to want policies that are not in their best interest. This seems to be the underpinnings of the current revival of the health care act, and the intention to ram it through via reconciliation.

Now, one of the reasons that representative democracy works a little better than direct democracy is that elected representatives get to exercise a little judgment to smooth out the knee-jerk passions of their constituents. They can drag their feet on an issue long enough for cooler heads to prevail. In very rare cases, they can flout the wishes of their constituents and still keep their jobs.

But ObamaCare (or whatever derogatory term we're using today) doesn't seem to be disliked due to the passions of the moment. A bit more than a month ago, the favor/oppose line on the act was 41/51. Today, it's 42/52. It's been pretty stable since last October.

Can you pick apart poll results to find something that Americans actually want done? Yes. Is there some possibility that electoral inertia will allow legislators and the President to enact this turkey and get away with it? Sure. But let's be real clear here: If this bill gets passed, it is indisputable that it will be against the wishes of the electorate. Maybe they're wrong. But if I were a congressman or senator, I'm not sure I'd want to count on it.

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