Any government that fails to meet the needs of large segments of the population for economic and social stability for a long time becomes less legitimate. As the government loses legitimacy, threats to replace it by one means or another rise. The health care crisis has reached the point where government can no longer protect its legitimacy by buying off large groups of people. The number of uninsured is growing, and a much broader group of those supposedly with health insurance are beginning to realize that it may not mean anything. Even if you can get care, the uninsured cost can bankrupt you. Too often the insurance company itself will cancel the policy before paying large claims. Add the health care crisis to the near brush with Depression and the rising unemployment and the government is in trouble. Any politician in office right now should be looking over their shoulder and feeling that their job is threatened. Only those politicians in the most radically gerrymandered states or districts can feel safe. Watch the contortions that Arnold Schwarzenegger has been going through to try to act sane for the moderate voters and still keep his conservative creds with the right-wingers.
When the government attempts to enforce an ideology or religious doctrine on large groups of unbelievers they face push back. When the numbers of active unbelievers get large enough, the threat becomes dangerous to the incumbent government's continued hold on power. The government then has two choices on how to deal with that loss of legitimacy and the resulting threats to its continued hold on power. It can either step in and do what is required so that fewer people face the problems or it can resort to more extreme authoritarian methods of repressing those who threaten to replace the government in power.
China's communist government considers the Uighur population to be a threat because they reject the Communist doctrine based on materialism. That was also the Chinese government's problem with the Falun Gong and the Tibetan Buddhists. But it has also been the problem for the American conservatives who are trying to enforce their strange ideology on America. It explains the pressure to steal elections and conduct dirty tricks, as well as the expanded actions by right-wing extremist groups like the anti-abortionists, the racists and the anti-immigration groups. The push-back the conservatives get from those of us who recognize the snake oil they are peddling is why they still feel like they are an oppressed minority.
But that mechanism is also the basis for why Obama is dropping in the polls. Fewer and fewer people see him acting to protect them from the economy or from the American medical disaster-zone that is good primarily to make a few more people rich and occasionally provide pretty good medicine but unreliably for anyone but the very rich.
While the economy was expanding a lot of people who were not rich thought they might become rich, so the threat of a health care crisis seemed less likely. Now that the conservatives have also destroyed America's economic growth, that group has clearly gotten smaller as more and more people are sweating out just keeping their job.
The real problem for health care reform is clearly in the rich man's club in Congress - the Senate. The Republicans have been a shrinking minority, but they are no longer in power. The Democrats are, and the economy and health care crisis reflect on the Democrats now. It's clear to the Republicans who are left that if they can just hang on they begin to regain the power of the opposition during times of social and economic crisis. Which leaves the gang of six. All of them appear threatened and desperately grasping for funds to gain reelection. How to deal with them is the question.
Obama's advertising in their states is a really good idea. Let's hope it works, because the health care crisis is ground zero for the continued existence of the Demorats in power in Congress and in the federal government. This is one the Democrats must win. That is equally true for the conservatives.
So that's the battleground in a nutshell. And politically, nothing else matters now. Nothing.