My take is that the elections of 2006 (when the Democrats captured Congress) and 2008 (when they won the White House and a Supermajority in the Senate) gave the Democrats an excess of confidence. The Congressional debates in the lead up to the law's enactment strongly suggested that the Democrats had bought into a set of beliefs:
- They thought that they could ram through a massive entitlement program along party lines and take all the credit for the great new free stuff, locking up voter gratitude for a generation.
- They thought that they could say anything to get the law passed, because once passed they could take credit for all the great new free stuff, locking up voter gratitude for a generation.
- They thought that if there were any dead ender bitter clingers who didn't like the law, that once it was implemented it would be too late to go back and the dead enders would give up and go along in resignation.
- Voters are furious that the "great new free stuff" is screwing their current health insurance over, that they have to pay higher premiums and deductables, and that they may not be able to keep their doctor.
- Voters are furious that they were lied to - repeatedly - by all the Democrats at all levels of the party up to Obama.
- Voters with insurance via their employer have yet to find out that now that the bill has been passed, they'll get a chance to see what it does to them. They will be furious, and will outnumber the currently furious individual plan voters by a factor of 10. Their anger will peak immediately before next year's elections.
- Seniors have not yet realized that Medicare was robbed of half a Trillion dollars to fund healthcare for people other than Medicare enrollees. They will be furious, and are well known to have perhaps the highest election day turnout of any demographic.
The Democrats did not intend any of this, and were so buoyed by the elections of 2006 and 2008 that they through caution to the wind. Nobody in the party seems to have asked the question: do we really think that we can take a Trillion dollars from the middle class and from seniors and still keep their votes?
I don't think there's any way to look at this as anything other than a Greek Tragedy. Elektra comes to mind, with the bloodletting in the final act still to be seen at the voting booths next year. The landslide has begun - everyone can see the first slipping from the top of the mountain. It's still small but everyone knows what this will turn into, and how quickly this will happen.
And everyone knows what is going to happen to the Democrats standing at the bottom of the mountain. They can run, but everyone knows that there's no way they can run fast enough.
They should have seen this. They didn't anticipate it. Now it will play out in an 11 month agony for them.