The Democrats are out on a limb, and the wind of change could soon blow them off their unsteady perch. Many in the GOP are hoping to seize on the divided opinions on health care to retake Congress - or at least close the large gap the Democrats have enjoyed since November 2008.
The Democrats are out on a limb, and the wind of change could soon blow them off their unsteady perch.
Many in the GOP are hoping to seize on the divided opinions on health care to retake Congress - or at least close the large gap the Democrats have enjoyed since November 2008.
More than half of the people (59 percent) polled by CNN oppose the health care bill that recently passed into law. A smaller number (39 percent) support it.
Republicans are hoping that this Congress acting against the perceived opinion of potential voters will lead to an electoral advantage in November.
History is on their side.
In 1964, Lyndon B. Johnson won an incredible landslide only months after the assassination of John Kennedy. The momentum from the top of the ticket brought in 38 new Democratic congressmen.
But the 1965 Civil Rights Act, a lack of success in Vietnam and a perception that his Great Society initiatives were growing to large and costing too much generated a backlash among voters that was unstoppable.
The 1966 mid-term elections swept out a vast majority of the Democrats elected to Congress on Johnson's coat tails in 1964. That mid-term ushered in a new era of GOP dominance in Presidential elections, and a huge legislative swing toward federalism - an end of big national programs with an emphasis put on states' rights.
It's been 35 years since Martin Luther King Jr. led 25,000 people in a march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala., to fight for voting rights for black people.
That was a very unpopular measure as well. Many people in 1965 hurled racial epithets toward marchers and fought the legislation vigorously. They weren't the Tea Party Movement, but many of the actions of this weekend closely mirrored those of March 1965. Showering black representatives with the worst racial insults - even spitting on one of them - harkened back several generations.
The reaction to Brown v. Board of Education in 1955 was greeted with similar fervor. You only need to spend a few minutes in the National Historic Site honoring the decision to see the videos of angry white people extolling their contempt of having their children learn beside the "savages" in the classroom.
The national health care bill is bringing about similar emotional outcries.
Representatives left the halls of Congress to rally a group of protesters from the Tea Party Movement and other groups. Among those who stood before the crowd and waived the Gadsden Flag (Don't Tread On Me) adopted by the Tea Partiers was Oklahoma Congresswoman and gubernatorial candidate Mary Fallin.
According to the Washington Post, Fallin was greeted by a fellow Republican from Oklahoma when she returned from the crowd. They reported this exchange:
"That's kind of fun," Fallin said cheerfully after a turn at riling the crowd with signs saying "No" in red letters.
Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), working at a table in the Speaker's Lobby, looked up at his colleagues returning from the balcony. "Are you inciting a riot?" he asked.
The problem with this “fervor before facts” mentality is it works.
Rush Limbaugh tells his listeners America is hanging by a thread. Glenn Beck cried and cajoled his Fox News audience with a cast of characters that included Sarah Palin and others railing against the plan and those who were preparing to pass it.
Of course, Palin also went on Sean Hannity's show on Fox News and told his audience that this health care bill brings America to "a scary place."
The scary thing is the reaction to it. People have a right to believe the bill is too big or broad. They have every right to vote against it for being a sign that government is too involved in our lives.
They may even be right.
But the idea that this bill will somehow destroy the country is ridiculous.
Republicans who rail against the deficits amuse me. Apparently they forget the expansive debt Ronald Reagan helped create in his two terms. I know they aren't counting the cost of George W. Bush and his war on two fronts and the cost of the economic collapse on his watch.
The administration of President Barack Obama has added to the deficit in an attempt to save the economy. Health care may add to it again.
The truth is that both sides have spent with an open fist and cut with a pocketknife when a broad ax was needed.
It's is a shame that Republican deficits are patriotic endeavors, but Democratic deficits are devastating attacks on our way of life, founding fathers and our children.
If history is a teacher, we should have learned that the mid-term elections during wartime and after the passage of historic, yet unpopular, legislation leads to a major change in the political landscape.
The Republicans are "trusting in God and keeping their powder dry."
I doubt the Democrats will be able to withstand their attacks.
Kent Bush is publisher of the Augusta (Kan.) Gazette.
The opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of the newspaper.