The base & politics: a reminder to Democrats

I usually don't do short posts, and I am not terribly fond of political predictions.  Not this far ahead of an election, at any rate.

However, I do have something in mind that I think needs to be said.  A lot of Democrats seem to be afraid that that they are damned if they do and damned if they don't on health care.  I want to make the short point that Democrats are more damned if they don't - at least in their base - and at least pretty well off in the long run if they do.  How so?

Right now, the Democratic base is somewhat divided on health care.  At least it appears so if you are counting the loudest ones.  One side believes that the Senate health bill is the Second Coming of Satan and that there is no way in hell it should pass as is.  They want a reconciliation bill to fix the bill go first.  The other side, my side, believes that the Senate bill is actually a pretty good bill for all its flaws, and should be passed forthwith by the House and sent to the President for a signature.  It can later be followed up with a 'fix.'

Let me tell you why going with my side will give Democrats a political advantage within the base, and likely within the larger American public.  First of all, if you do not pass any bill - which would be the position of the other side if a reconciliation bill doesn't go first - Democrats are screwed in both parts of their base.  My side, 'pass it and fix it later' crowd will abandon Democrats (in intensity, if not in votes) because they wouldn't get anything done.  Please don't fool yourself and think that the 'kill the bill' side of the base will suddenly come to the Democrats' rescue.  Democrats will have lost them as well, since they will not have delivered anything for them.  Their perception that the Democrats are just a bunch of wimps who have no spine will not change.

If Democrats pass the Senate bill first, my side of the base will be with them.  If they are then able to put together a satisfactory reconciliation package, the other side can be pacified - although I suspect they won't be, since they will accept nothing short of a public option, and there does not seem to be any way to pass one through reconciliation.  However, a reconciliation bill will bring some of them on board, and others will take a step back and realize, hey, we got something done!  Success has its followers.  There will still be some who will decide to be grumpy and stubborn, but at least Democrats will not have lost all, or even most of their base.

Now within the general American public, the same story will play out.  If we pass the Senate bill and explain to Americans what's in it for them and our values behind it - as the President is already doing - we will do just fine among American voters.  As Ezra Klein said, the American people don't hate the specific parts of the bill, they are misinformed and they hate the Congressional process.  Once the process is over, success will bring its own followers, and we can put the misinformation to rest.  If we pass nothing, however, the American people will believe two things: first, that the health care bill was a terrible idea and all the misinformation about it were true - and Democrats came up with it!  Second, Democrats are incapable of governing, so stop giving them the power to.

So, yeah.  Pass the damn bill.