In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision upholding the constitutionality of Obamacare, the principal choice now facing Americans on November 6 will be whether to keep Obamacare or to repeal it. The question is a binary one, and the answer — expressed almost entirely through their presidential vote — will go a long way toward determining the future course of this great nation.
Yes, the economy is extremely important; and, yes, Obamacare is hurting the economy. But the reason why this election is the most important since the Civil War is not because Mitt Romney would make a far better steward of the economy than President Obama (though he would). Rather, it’s because we are about to decide whether to put what will soon be one-fifth of our economy under the control of the federal government; whether to funnel previously unthinkable amounts of power and money to Washington; and whether this nation conceived in liberty will continue to prioritize liberty.
It is understandable why President Obama has no interest in framing this election as a referendum on Obamacare. His party already suffered perhaps its worst defeat since the 19th century thanks to his centerpiece legislation. With the Supreme Court’s ruling now behind him, he will have even less incentive to remind voters about Obamacare going forward. As far as he’s concerned, the less the American people think about it, the better.
This means, of course, that the more they think about it, the better it will be for Mitt Romney. It also means (of course) that Romney should encourage them to think about it, reminding them at every turn that this election isn’t merely — or even principally — about the economy; that it’s about something bigger; that we need to repeal Obamacare and replace it with real reform. And he should convey to them what real reform would look like, thereby bringing into the fold those independents who don’t want to go back to the pre-Obamacare status quo. He should start playing to win people’s votes, instead of merely trying not to lose them.
Yes, the fate of Obamacare will be the most important outcome of this election. On some level, the American people know this. There’s a reason why Romney gets standing ovations simply for mentioning repeal.
The question is whether either candidate will convey that he knows what this election is really about. Obama can’t say it’s about Obamacare — even though that’s what he considers it to be about — because he’ll lose if he does. Romney so far hasn’t said it’s about Obamacare — perhaps because that’s not what he considers it to be about — even though he’ll likely win if he does.
Regardless, the Court has cleared the field. The stakes are historic. The citizenry will decide.