What happens next year? It is the broad but important question for the balance of power in Washington and for the future of America's socialized medicine experiment that will forever be known as "Obamacare".
In the midst of the talking head interviews surrounding the Supreme Court decision upholding the latter, one of the very attorneys arguing that the Affordable Care Act be declared unconstitutional made his own declaration: it doesn't really matter; the system will collapse under its own weight before it is ever implemented. This prediction seems to be coming to pass, as the first set of deadlines on the employer mandate have been pushed back a year.
My theory: like most second terms, the A team has stepped aside for the B team, and those firmly wedded to Obamacare - its architects, its advocates, its committed bureaucrats - have largely left the administration. Their replacements are duller, less motivated, less influential with decision makers in the West Wing, all adding up to mean less effective. When you consider that Obamacare, if implemented, would be the greatest bureaucratic achievement in American history, the possiblity (perhaps probability!)of failure and the reasons therefor become evident. Think of it as the Miami Heat facing the Spurs in Game 7 without LeBron, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosch. OK, maybe they have Bosch - who cares - maybe for the sake of this analogy Eric Holder is Chris Bosch. Just to keep it fun.
By the time the 2016 presidential election gets serious, Obamacare will either be kicking us all in the pills or floundering like Monty Python's Black Knight, wanting desperately to inflict pain, full of futile threats comical in their emptiness.
Let us not forget the founding grandmother of Obamacare, Ms. Rodham-Clinton herself, already a virtual lock for the Democratic nomination. A mortally wounded Obamacare actually works for her candidacy, because she will sell herself as the only candidate qualified to "fix" it. We know 45% of the country will believe her. It's the extra 5.00001% that's the question mark.
None of which would be relevant if the Republican Party weren't the Ford Pinto of American politics. An even semi-functional party that didn't constantly, and needlessly, alienate the fastest growing demographic groups, tilt at the windmill that is the Culture War, and generally present itself as racist, isolated, ignorant and utterly confused, could beat any Democratic candidate in 2016. Maybe for the next two decades. But alas, what we have is the party of the tone-deaf. The kind of guys that people roll their eyes and walk away from at cocktail parties.
Worse yet for the Rs, the Dems have figured out how to raise tons of corporate money without alienating their base. They've built a coalition of big banks, government employee unions, regulated Fortune 500 companies, Hollywood airheads and idealistic Silicon Valley instant millionaires that can fund all the advertising it takes to convince the "I'm the 99%-legalize marijuana-ain't a party without bongos-give me sh#t for free" crowd that they actually care about them.
There is another significant trend, what I would call the Republican Talent Deflationary Spiral. Conservatives, by their nature, like to make money and they don't like to lose. Right now running for a contested seat promises only pain, suffering, and upon victory, a meager politician's salary. As the Republican brand becomes more damaged, their ideology uniquely begets more failure as talent simply stays in the private sector. Democrats, on the other hand, tend to see "public service" as a lifelong endeavor (at least until they're caught doing something abhorrent that makes them unelectable) and don't give up so easy.
In many ways, the Republicans are in worse shape than they were after Watergate. They have no fundraising advantage left. They've squandered every opportunity to reach the voters they need in the next few decades, mainly young latina/latinos. It doesn't happen very often, but I think we may be at the beginning stages of the collapse of a major political party in the United States.