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Mark Joseph

Mark Joseph

Posted: March 22, 2010 12:33 AM

Health Care Reform and the Radicalization of Betsy and Robby

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The House of Representatives passed historic legislation with President Obama's health care package and some pundits are saying the battle for health care is over. But far from being over, I'm afraid a deeply partisan battle-dare I say it-a war is only just beginning because of the manner in which this victory was won.

I say this because of two friends of mine: Betsy and Robby, my formerly apolitical friends who have been radicalized by the experience of the last 15 months and if they are any indication of the mood of the country, and I believe they are, the Democratic party is in for a political wake-up call of historic proportions in November.

Robby has been my neighbor for nearly seven years. He's a solid family man with a wife and two daughters who looks after his neighbors and is the guy you turn to when you need some help in the neighborhood. Until very recently he expressed almost no interest in politics. In fact I never knew exactly what party he supported and the subject of politics rarely came up. But today, if you visit his Facebook page you will see that he has been completely radicalized in a manner that would make Glenn Beck proud. His online profile features taunts of Al Gore and global warming, shout outs to the man whom he hopes will be his next Senator, Chuck DeVore and this tribute to Sarah Palin: "Go girl, let 'em keep talking s*** while you keep kicking their a**."

If Robby was formerly apolitical, my friend Betsy was uber-apolitical. Her uncle is a prominent judge and I used to marvel at how in spite of that she had absolutely no interest in politics or current affairs. But Betsy too has been radicalized. The last time I spoke to her a year ago she was her same apolitical self: a recently married mother-to-be anxiously awaiting the arrival of her first child, but yesterday she left me a voicemail telling me she now adores the Fox News Channel and watches Glenn Beck and Bill O'Reilly all the time and really, really loves Beck's show.

Something is happening in America: the radicalization of people like Robby and Betsy that President Obama and this administration ignore at their own political peril and the passage of this health care legislation without a single Republican vote portends serious trouble for his party with voters like these.

I've previously written about the possibility of Democrats being in serious danger of losing between 75-100 seats in the House and maybe as many as 10 in the Senate. Crazy, I know, but no more crazy than a Tea Party candidate winning Ted Kennedy's seat. After this vote, I think I may have underestimated. And if Betsy and Robby are any indication, even Senators like Russ Feingold and Barbara Boxer, their representatives in the Senate, are in for the political fights of their lives from these radicalized voters.

Republicans hope for and Democrats dread a repeat of the 1994 elections in which the GOP gained 52 seats in the House, but, if these two are any indication, 2010 may be '94 on steroids, led this time not by outraged Conservatives, but rather by independent, formerly apolitical, non-voting Americans like Robby and Betsy who have been radicalized by the likes of Beck into voting in numbers that may create majorities in both houses that could very well be capable not only of rolling back this health care bill, but overriding a likely Presidential veto.

 
 
 

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