In light of the Massachusetts Senate race and polls showing popular opposition to comprehensive health care reform, opponents of reform will try to paint efforts to continue the fight as going against the peoples’ wishes. This was happening before the Massachusetts election was even decided. Weekly Standard editor and noted fan of needless death in both hospitals and battlefields William Kristol wrote Monday, “I very much doubt, if Scott Brown wins in Massachusetts, that Nancy Pelosi will be able to persuade 217 other House Democrats to jam Obamacare down the throats of the American people.”
These arguments would make sense if the federal government made decisions based on polls it conducted of the populace, or by referendums in randomly selected states. But it doesn’t. Voters register their opinions through elections, and that is the only form of expression that’s at all relevant. And a look at the numbers there show a country that voted overwhelmingly for representation that would reform health care.
If you add up the populations of all the states where at least one Senator voted for the health care reform bill, the total is about 229 million, or 74.5 percent of the country. This is slightly misleading, though, as it does not account for states where one Senator did not vote for the bill and the other did. So I calculated the figure again, only dividing by two the population of states where this split occurred. The total is 192 million, or 62.767 percent of the country.
Let’s be clear. The vast majority of the country voted to elect representatives who support health care reform. It is the obligation of the Congress to fulfill that mandate and pass comprehensive health care reform. That the undemocratic nature of the Senate and the filibuster makes this difficult is unfortunate, but not an insurmountable barrier.