Those of us who practice punditry, or who are serious students of politics, are familiar with the term "wave" election. We have just experienced three of these in a row. In 2006, Democrats and Independents rose up and smacked the majority Republicans in Congress, reducing them to a minority in both houses. In 2008, Democrats and Independents united again to produce a strong wave for President Barack Obama and his Democratic allies on the Hill. So strong was this wave that states like Indiana and Virginia, which had not gone for the Democrats in decades, were swept into the winner's column.
The 54 percent of the popular vote won by Barack Obama was not as impressive as the 59 percent that backed Ronald Reagan in 1984 or the 61 percent that gave Richard Nixon forty-nine states, but in governing terms it was truly a wave. That's because it gave the incoming new president an historic opportunity to govern with strong liberal majorities in both houses of Congress.
Now, it's becoming clear that 2008 was also a "waive" election, our first. That's because the strong liberal majorities that came in with President Obama swept opposition before them in passing the historic health care takeover in March, 2010. It was the first time in modern history that a Congress ignored public opinion polls that had shown consistently for a year that the American people were opposed to the step they were about to take.
The health care takeover, labeled "ObamaCare" by opponents, was passed by narrow majorities without a single member of the opposition party in either house agreeing. This was unprecedented. Not Civil Rights, not Medicare, not even controversial measures like the creation of the federal Education Department or the giveaway of the Panama Canal were so unpopular they couldn't claim a single vote from the opposition party.
How was 2008 also a "waive" election? Because of waivers. Some 1400 waivers have been granted by the administration. These are temporary relief from the rigors of the new health care law. They have been granted, it seems, to favored constituents of this administration.
How can this be? If this health care reform is the greatest thing since sliced bread, why would some folks not even want a crumb? Unions, especially public sector unions, seem to be high on the list of waivees. So are businesses with fifty-plus employees who happen to be located in former Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-Calif.) San Francisco district.
Now, that's a story. The main reason Nancy Pelosi is the former Speaker of the House is that she single-mindedly pushed the health care bill through. Recall, she said if they had to go around the fence, over the wall, or parachute in, the House majority would pass the health care bill. Many of us thought the wall she was referring to was the Constitution. The fence was the system of checks-and-balances given us by the Founders.
People would have to have the bill passed and signed into law, Nancy Pelosi assured us, before they could fully know what was in the bill. Only then would they begin to warm to it.
They did more than warm to its secret benefits; they grew intensely hot. That's what explained the "wave" election of last fall, when Pelosi lost her majority over this issue.
The "waive" election of 2008 was unprecedented in another way: It's the first time in American history that Congress created a benefit that presumably benefited the governing coalition's constituents that many of those same loyal supporters want no part of.
Imagine if, on passage of the Civil Right Act in 1964, millions of black Americans refused to ride in the front of the bus, or eat at integrated lunch counters. Imagine if they had responded to passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965 by staying away from the polls in droves.
That's actually what is happening now. Some of the liberal constituency groups are trying eagerly to avoid ObamaCare - all the while demanding that the rest of us not get waived.
What we are seeing is an opening up of previously undreamed of occasions for political corruption and chicanery. Or, should I say Chicago-ry?
The only remedy for this is the total repeal of ObamaCare. It's time to go back to the drawing board. And this time, let's consult the owner's manual - the Constitution.
Robert Morrison is senior fellow for policy studies at the Family Research Council, a right-wing Christian lobbying group.