A Campaign Issue You Can Believe In

By passing health-care reform, Democrats go before voters this fall having delivered on their promise—attracting women voters and preventing the GOP from sticking them with the do-nothing label.

It’s a no-brainer that passing this health-care bill is a major net plus for the Democrats in November.

What kind of argument can any incumbent make on the basis of having been in office for two years and accomplishing nothing? How can the abandonment of the party’s most significant legislative goal provide cause for continued confidence?

Once his course was chosen, this bill became too big to fail.

More Daily Beast writers on the health-care vote.Remember, women voters significantly outnumber men when it comes to supporting Democrats. They are disproportionately concerned with health-care issues as they shoulder most of the burden when illness strikes their families. Without this bill, they would have little reason to bother to turn out in November. Indeed, not many people of either gender would have felt they did. It merely would have proved what Republicans are always (actually) saying: that Democrats are good for nothing.

It was probably a mistake for Barack Obama to do health care before he did financial reform. And it would have been a great deal simpler just to extend Medicare as far as it could go. But once his course was chosen, this bill became too big to fail. And thanks, largely to Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Obama himself, it didn’t.

Eric Alterman is a professor of English and journalism at Brooklyn College and a professor of journalism at CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. He is the author, most recently, of Why We're Liberals: A Handbook for Restoring America's Important Ideals.