House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, celebrating the passage of the health insurance overhaul Sunday in San Francisco, said she's not worried about Republicans' plans to take over Congress this fall by campaigning for a repeal of the law.
Whatever the polls show about Americans' views of the bill overall, voters will welcome provisions such as one that requires insurance companies to provide coverage to all regardless of their health, Pelosi told reporters after a speech to an enthusiastic congregation at Glide Memorial Church.
"What is it that they want to repeal? Under this legislation, no longer will having a pre-existing condition be a reason to deny people health insurance," said Pelosi, D-San Francisco. "No longer will being a woman be considered a pre-existing condition," she added, referring to the bill's ban on charging women higher rates than men.
"If they have a child who is diabetic, whether they want insurance companies to cut them off ... let's have that debate," Pelosi said. "We are confident in taking that message to the American people."
Bleah! She just loves that "being a woman is a pre-existing condition" line, doesn't she? We city-folk sure are urbane and sophisticated.
So, what the hell do you do when Nancy Pelosi is your Congressman? Instapundit ran a series of reader suggestions for conservatives and Tea Partiers who want to participate in the House-cleaning even if they live in Democrat districts. Some of them are pretty good:
Reader George Bednekoff emails: “I would lobby for term limits. Even fairly loose term limits of 12 years for the House and 18 years for the Senate would insure that congressmen in uncompetitive districts would get replaced periodically.”
Lynne Hulbert writes: “Scott Brown had a system where you could make phone calls for him from anywhere in the U.S. using your cell phone, most likely, since most people have free long-distance calling on their cell phones. I did it, and the system worked very well. Judging by the results, that might be one way to help in districts outside your own. I live in Arizona and called for a guy in Massachusetts, so there is no limit.”
And Lynwood Wilson emails: “Campaign against your local Congress critter regardless. Donate to his opponents. Even if he wins in spite of your efforts the strength of the opposition may worry him and affect his votes. And you might beat him. Who expected us to win Kennedy’s seat (sic) in Mass.?”
Another reader emails: “I live within 100 miles of a Dem congressman’s district in my state. He voted against the bill. BUT…before the vote I called his office and informed them I will contribute to his opponent if the Democrats pass this. AND I told them I will drive the 1 1/2 hours to help his opponent knock on doors, stuff envelopes, answer phones, get out the vote….whatever it takes to defeat him. As a clincher, I told them I am unemployed thanks to his party’s policies. I’ll have plenty of time to devote to his opponent.”
I think the most important lesson is to stay engaged, and don’t be silenced.
I think the most useful of these is the third one: "campaign against your local congress critter regardless." I just don't have the time or energy to dedicate myself to races in other districts. Of course, opposing Nancy Pelosi is very much a political charge of the Light Brigade. She won her last election with 70% of the vote. The Republican got just 9%, with Cindy Sheehan cleaning up the rest. Still, there is a contested primary for the Republican nomination in the 8th District (that's San Francisco) and at least one of the candidates is not the sort of cranky gadfly that one would normally expect.
The cranky gadfly is John Dennis. Actually, he seems like an OK guy. Made his pile in real estate. Lives in Pacific Heights. Has a pretty wife and cute daughter. He's been endorsed by Barry Goldwater... Jr. However, Dennis is from the Ron Paul wing of the Republican Party, meaning he wants to repeal the 16th Amendment, "End the Fed," end the Iraq and Afghan Wars, etc. He's better on bailouts and health care. In a normal congressional district, Dennis could not expect to get very far, but in SF... who knows? During the 2008 presidential race, Ron Paul became something of a cult phenomenon out here.
The "traditional" Republican is Dana Walsh, who ran against Pelosi in 2008, garnered the above mentioned 9% of the vote and came in third to Cindy Sheehan. I think it's fair to wonder if Pelosi would recognize Walsh if she passed her in the street. Still, she's no RINO. She has pretty conservative positions, and is well connected to conservative media and think tanks. She has also managed to raise $1 million, which is way more than I would have guessed. Here's an interview with Brian Sussman, SF's local talk radio hot head.
Can Walsh or Dennis beat Pelosi? Well, what do you think? GOP registration in the City is below 20% and (ahem) quiescent. But, as Walsh notes in the linked interview, there are a ton of people here who are registered as Independents or "decline to state." There are also a lot of people who are simply apathetic or otherwise resigned to their fates. Is that a winning coalition? Well, it worked for Scott Brown.
A basic problem of being conservative in San Francisco is finding your fellow travelers. It's not that nobody in SF is conservative. But, the loudest voices in the room are always the Democrats, and that can be intimidating to people. Still, there are ideological soul mates to be found. Maybe they won't be doctrinaire, but you would be surprised how nuanced many people in SF can be. Often, they vote Democrat because there doesn't seem to be any other alternative. "I, of course, have developed a finely tuned "right-dar" which has helped me to seek out, if not Republicans, then non-Democrats (that's close enough). Walsh and Dennis are both impressive people, with Walsh being the more reasonable and Dennis being more revolutionary. They each deserve support in a race that is easily the most difficult for any Republican in the country.