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August 23, 2009
The New Third Rail of American Politics? (updated)
It has been acknowledged for the past forty years that Social Security was on a path to inevitable bankruptcy and was in essence unsustainable. The Republicans in particular have tried to warn the American people, the most recent being President Bush in 2005, wherein he did offer some viable alternatives which became victim to Democratic demagoguery. Some within his own party backed away fearful of the reaction from the senior citizen voting bloc.
Over the years it became a political truism that Social Security was the third rail of American politics and the Republicans were always accused of stepping on it.
Well it now appears after two fateful attempts (1994 and the present), that the Democrats endeavor to nationalize health care has become the new "third rail". Ironically in part for the same reason Social Security was: the senior citizen voting bloc. No group will be more affected by health care reform.
The question for the Democrats: will they try and force their program on the American people to accept their vision of "National Health Service" despite the polling data and reaction from the public.
How willing are they to step on the new third rail of American politics.
Update from Roy Lofquist:
I was thinking of doing an obituary for the Democratic Party, attributing its demise to "Thornburgh Disease".
Dick Thornburgh was AG of the US when, in 1991, he resigned to seek the Pennsylvania Senate seat become vacant due to the death of John Heinz. In an upset he lost to Harris Wofford. Health care was a major "issue" in the race but later studies showed that it had little to do with the outcome. Thornburgh had been Governor of PA and this was an up close and personal thing.
The D's came to the erroneous conclusion that "health care" was a game changer in the US. This lead directly to Hillarycare, which single handedly brought the Republicans to power in both Houses for the first time since 1932.
Now health care has come back to haunt the Party. It has brought well over a million citizens to peaceably assemble and seek redress of their grievances. I don't see a repeat of 1994 next year, I see 1932 - the Democrats will be cast into the wilderness for three generations.
I was going to describe "Thornburgh Disease" as being like malaria - initial onset then unpredictable recurrences for the rest of your life.
Alas, I can picture it in my head but I think it is beyond my writing skills. The faux obituary is awfully hard to get right. I thought maybe one of your growing coterie of excellent writers might want to take a shot at it. I'd love to see it done well.
As always - may you live long and prosper.