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Monday, March 22, 2010

Critical Mass Against But Not For

All reports had the phone lines buzzing for weeks with people calling on to register their opposition to health care reform. In fact, we've watched all sorts of examples of critical mass against health care reform.

We saw it with town halls. We saw it with the elections in Virginia, New Jersey, and Massachusetts. We also saw it with the explosion of the Tea Party movement which has been dedicated to defeating this legislation.

In fact, we saw this type of critical mass once before recently. That was when John McCain and Ted Kennedy proposed their immigration reform. Once again, the phone lines lit up with people's displeasure with that bill. There was protest, outrage, and that bill was ultimately defeated in part because of that outrage.

What we haven't seen in a long time is a critical mass for something. There was a glimmer of hope a few years ago when Heath Shuler proposed the SAVE Act. That is Secure America through Verification and Enforcement. It was a bill that would have created a database, id cards, and stronger border enforcement against illegal immigration.

Everyone that learned about supported the bill. Some supported it enthusiastically. Furthermore, because Shuler is a Democrat and the bill has tough border enforcement, it enjoyed bi partisan support.

Unfortunately, the bill was introduced under the leadership of Nancy Pelosi and so it had no chance of reaching the floor. Because it had no chance of being introduced, most people never heard about it. Instead of reaching critical mass, the SAVE Act turned into a sort of cult favorite among political junkies.

Still, we've been stuck in such a cynical political climate that we only reach critical mass when we are against something.

1 comment:

AG said...

That's not really unusual. People don't take to the streets to fight for things their politicians are doing anyway.

Heck you can reduce that example even farther. When you fill out opinion surveys where they ask you to rate your service from 1-5 where 1 is strongly agree and 5 is strongly disagree, I don't know about you but I find its much easier to strongly disagree with something than strongly agree with something. Its like the all squares are rectangles but not all rectangles are squares thing.

That's also why I find Rasmussen's likely voter screen for their polls somewhat suspect. Rasmussen considers people more likely to vote based on the strength of their opinion. In fact, his presidential daily tracking poll only measures people who strongly approve and strongly disapprove of Obama. And since its easier to strongly disapprove of something than it is to strongly approve its going to make it look like only Republicans want to vote in 2010.