Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Summer of Sliding

The plans for national health care have hit President Obama and Democrats hard, and the impact on local elections in 2009 could be significant.

The health care fracas has prompted non-stop headlines, consternation among voters and confusion in the Democrat ranks. And as national health care plans get trounced in the polls, Obama and Senate boss Pelosi seem inclined to ram it down the collective throats of the residents of the good old US of A – all just with Democrat votes.

Democrats and advocates for national health care are now desperately trying to repackage the issue to voters, but the damage to the "reform" efforts may have already been done. Democrat Congressman Paul Tonko faced 1500 citizens at a health care forum in Bethlehem on Tuesday night and many were angry and not afraid to voice their is displeasure.

The saying among veteran politicians is that people don't come out when they are happy. Sure some of those in the crowd were drummed up by liberal advocacy groups, but most didn't need advocacy groups to convince them to attend the forum. Seniors, middle class folks and small business owners largely do not like the national health care options and the polls show that dislike.

The collapse of Democratic popularity due to their bungling of health care can't help but hurt Democrats in local elections. The 2009 local races will be the first chance for voters to make voices their heard on health care, the effectiveness of the stimulus spending, the accelerating national debt and issues involving personal liberty. And those are just federal issues – voters are likely to be revved up about the disastrous state budget and the more than 100 tax and fee increases.

But Democratic loyalty may force some of their local candidates to take one for the team and support health care. One Democrat candidate for County Legislature was at the Tonko health care rally voicing support for national health care, and other incumbent Democrats and candidates have stated support for the controversial care package.

Democrats in Rensselaer County are already struggling, unable to attract a County Executive or County Clerk candidates and trying to fend off embarrassing news articles about one of their candidates being caught living outside their legislative district. A raging debate over national health care is one of the last Democrats need.