Belmont Club

Tomorrow Belongs To Me

“Tomorrow belongs to me”. So argues Kevin Drum. Writing in Mother Jones he argues that despite the electoral apocalypse facing the liberals in November, minorities and the Millenial Vote are going to give the Democrats — in the long run — the permanent majority.

Even if the Republican Party eventually softens its views on social issues, it won’t make much difference once the Millennials have reached age 30 and their party identification has hardened. If Teixeira is right, by the time this process is over an entire cohort of voters will be heavily pro-Democratic for the rest of their lives.

As it happens, 2010, like 2002, might not be such a great year to make this prediction: a brutal recession and the usual midterm blues are likely to produce big Republican gains this November. In the long term, though, the longer the Republican Party continues to rely on its intolerant, ultraconservative base for support, the more likely they are to write their own obituary for 2020 and beyond.

Ranged against Drum are Peggy Noon and one-time Clinton pollster Dick Morris. Noonan’s argumemt is summarized by the variation on another song: “The More I See You, The Less I Want You”. The former Reagan speechwriter argues that failure and disaster bring their own karma. The Tea Party, she argues, was not the creation of the GOP but a surprise to the Washington elites of both parties. In the Noonan view reality gets to vote. Any party which put the nation on the course to joblessness, economic decline and punitive taxation would find its support dwindling, minorities and Millenials notwithstanding. According to that line of thinking there are no Permanent Majorities where there are Permanent Screw-ups. The anti-Washington mood is a datapoint not to be ignored.

It was a largely self-generated uprising, and it was marked, wherever it happened, in San Diego or St. Louis, by certain common elements. The visiting senator or representative, gone home to visit the voters, always seemed shocked at the size of the audience and the depth of his constituents’ anger. There was usually a voter making a videotape in the back of the hall. There were almost always spirited speeches from voters. There was never, or not once that I saw, a strong and informed response from the congressman. In one way it was like the Iranian revolution: Most people got the earliest and fullest reports of what was happening on the Internet, through YouTube. Voters would take shaky videos on their cellphones and post them when they got home. Suddenly, over a matter of weeks, you could type in “town hall” and you’d get hundreds, and finally thousands, of choices.

The politicians, every one of them, seemed taken aback—shaken and unprepared. They tried various strategies—mollify the crowd, or try to explain to them how complex governing is. Sen. Arlen Specter tried that in early August 2009, in an appearance with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Faced with fierce criticism of the health-care bill as it then stood, Mr. Specter explained that see here, it’s a thousand-page bill and sometimes Congress must make judgements “very fast.” The crowd exploded in jeers. …

It was a real pushback, and it was fueled by indignation. The attitude was: “We have terrible worries—unemployment, the cost of government, its demands, our ability to compete and win in the world. You are focused on your thing, but we are focused on these things.”

Dick Morris runs a variation on the Noonan theme. He argues from Bill Clinton’s experience that any administration which hooks its wagon to the minority or moonbeam wagon should remember that it is ultimately political suicide to rule at odds with the nation that pays the bills, worries about mortgages and wants an ordinary life. The “vanguard” begins to outrun its lines of supply. They may subsist on dreams but the ordinary working stiff needs macaroni and cheese. And when they stray too far from the herd the leash gets jerked back.

When a president moves leftward, a vicious cycle begins to set in. Driven to raise the intensity of his rhetoric and to take positions further to the extreme, he alienates more and more centrists and moderates, forcing himself to rely more and more on left wing voters. This reliance, in turn, fuels an ever more pronounced leftward drift until he ends up with a vastly diminished political base.

In Obama’s case, his reliance on minority voters adds to the difficulty as he drives racially fair whites to see him as governing primarily in the interests of minority voters.

Obama’s decision to have his Justice Department sue Arizona over its immigration law — despite the fact that American voters back the statute by 2:1 — is the latest illustration of that leftward drift. So is Attorney General Eric Holder’s decision not to prosecute the Black Panthers who posted themselves at a mixed-race polling place in military uniform with clubs to deter white voters.

Whether Drum — or Noonan and Morris — are right will be settled empirically. My money is on Noonan. Youth is not eternal. Sooner or later it gets arthritis and the Millenials have to pay the bills. In Mario Lanza’s immortal words:

Post jucundam juventutem
Post molestam senectutem
Nos habebit humus.

Which roughly translates to, “After a pleasant youth, after a troubling old age, the earth will have us.” But before the earth gets you Dr. Rationing will gets his hooks on you. Before the Millenials die they will have to meet the bare bodkin of the Grand Rationer. Today that refers to Dr. Donald Berwick, who “Obama opted to make a recess appointment of Berwick to head CMS, an agency that oversees a third of all health care spending in the U.S. and that will play a major role under ObamaCare in deciding what care is available and who gets it.”

It is understandable why the administration would want to keep Berwick’s views under the radar. He has praised the U.K’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), which he says has “developed very good and very disciplined, scientifically grounded, policy-connected models for the evaluation of medical treatments from which we ought to learn.”

Last year, the Orwellian-named NICE unveiled plans to cut annual steroid injections for severe back pain to 3,000 from 60,000. “The consequences of the NICE decision will be devastating for thousands of patients,” Jonathan Richardson of Bradford Hospital’s Trust told London’s Daily Telegraph.

“It will mean,” said Dr. Richardson, “more people on opiates, which are addictive and kill 2,000 a year. It will mean more people having spinal surgery, which is incredibly risky and has a 50% failure rate.”

And here we thought the first rule of medicine was to do no harm.

If Berwick wants to imitate Britain’s model, perhaps he can explain why breast cancer in America has a 25% mortality rate while in Britain it’s almost double at 46%.

History doesn’t stop. And there are no permanent regimes.

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