Wow. Our experiment is off to a great start—let's see if we can finish it off sooner than expected.
Ramesh Ponnuru writes today that if Barack Obama wins reelection, nothing will change. Republicans will not feel chastened one bit. Instead, they'll conclude that they can't win with a faux conservative like Romney, and will spend the next four years amping up the obstruction machine while they wait for Paul Ryan or Marco Rubio to save them. It will be gridlock as far as the eye can see.
I think he's probably right. For the most part, the American public has a choice this November between four years of Republican radicalism and four years of nothing much changing. But Ed Kilgore points out at least one major change that Americans can expect if Obama is reelected:
For the record, there's at least one area of highly significant, powerful activity that will occur automatically if Barack Obama is re-elected, even if Republicans make congressional gains and convince themselves to go even crazier: the Affordable Care Act will be implemented, and 30 million or so Americans without health insurance will be covered, making the big step back towards "individual responsibility" for health care conservatives crave that much less likely.
This is true. And here's an interesting thing: for the first time that I can remember, this means that I have a personal stake in the election. It's not just that I find one side's policies more congenial in the abstract, but that one policy in particular could have a substantial impact on my life.
You see, I've never really intended to keep blogging until I'm 65. I might, of course. Blogging is a pretty nice job. But I'd really like to have a choice, and without Obamacare I probably won't. That's because I'm normal: I'm in my mid-50s, I have high blood pressure and high cholesterol, a family history of heart trouble, and a variety of other smallish ailments. Nothing serious, but serious enough that it's unlikely any insurance company would ever take me on. So if I decided to quit blogging when I turned 60, I'd be out of luck. I couldn't afford to be entirely without health insurance (the 4x multiplier that hospitals charge the uninsured would doom me all by itself), and no one would sell me an individual policy. I could try navigating the high-risk pool labyrinth, but that's a crapshoot. Maybe it would work, maybe it wouldn't.
But if Obamacare stays on the books, I have all the flexibility in the world. If I want to keep working, I keep working. If I don't, I head off to the exchange and buy a policy that suits me. No muss, no fuss.
So yes, this election matters, and it matters in a very personal way. It does to me, anyway. It's not just about gridlock as far as the eye can see.