If human beings were purely rational actors, people would never enter into a mortgage contract they did not understand and our elected officials would be motivated entirely by policy – and not political – considerations.
In such a world, bipartisanship would be the norm because these Vulcan legislators would never have to worry about out-of-context sound bites that could be used against them in re-election campaigns by political opponents.
Instead, these legislators would evaluate every issue (and read the text of every single bill) and after much deliberative thought cast votes they deem best for their constituents.
Now, every politician running for office short of Bullworth swears on all that is holy that this is, in fact, how she or he conducts business.
But in reality, these men and women run in an endless popularity contest and have to face the electorate in a 24/7 sound bite news cycle.
And it is this phenomenon which presents the White House with its best opportunity to pass meaningful health care reform – but only if President Obama takes off the gloves and plays hardball with some of his own allies.
Within a few weeks, members of the House and Senate will return to their home states for August recess, where they will be treated to a barrage of special interest advertising that will make Harry and Louise seem quaint.
The status-quo spin machine has already gone into full gear, saying a public option for health care will lead to a single-payer system, socialized medicine, rationed care and all but a return to the barber-surgeon of medieval days.
In truth, a public health option is not the radical plan some have suggested. It will force greater competition among private health insurance plans – hardly the selfless purveyors of healthcare its proponents have suddenly made them out to be. This competition will inherently provide greater choice and lower health care costs, the key to getting our long-term fiscal house in order. Most importantly, it will provide access to preventative health care for the tens of millions of Americans who are now uninsured.