Conservatives are at least as mad over Obamacare as liberals were about Bush’s conduct of the War on Terror. But just as Obama has not repealed or significantly amended the Patriot Act or closed down Guantanamo, what does anyone seriously expect from the next batch of Republicans to take power? If the GOP takes back one chamber of Congress this year, that won’t be enough to make significant revisions, and if the party manages the minor miracle of taking back both House and Senate, you can be sure Republicans would amend the legislation only to the point of offering their own big-government “solution” to the healthcare “crisis.” As far as growth of federal power is concerned, Obamacare, like the War on Terror, is two leaps forward, and the most we’re likely to get from the opposition is one half-step back.
If the other side of the aisle in Washington gives little cause for hope, though, discontent in the states is another matter. It’s fueling the primary candidacies of a few genuinely anti-statist insurgents, and even before last night’s vote a healthy movement for nullification and state resistance was burgeoning. The states (sort of) stopped Real ID, can they stop the cartelization of healthcare as well? Or even if they can’t, will this law spark enough opposition that a broad states’ rights movement arises? The danger is that the election of conventional politicians who talk a good antistatist game but vote like the people who gave us the Patriot Act and Obamacare will quench popular dissatisfaction before anything can come of it.