"Politicians have tried and failed for decades to enact universal health care. This time, they succeeded. In 2008, Democrats won the presidency and both houses of Congress, and by the thinnest of margins, they rammed a bill through. They weren't going to get another opportunity for a very long time. It cost them their majority, and it was worth it.So now that we have the skeletal structure for a single-payer health care system in place, the president and his shrunken army can go on to the more moderate goals listed in the Saletan quote above. The possibility that that Democrats can also use some of the moderate, bipartisan capital that they're bound to build up to champion some progressive social issues--which history will invariably look favorably upon us for--and put the lie to the notion that the tea party is strictly a coalition of advocates for fiscal responsibility and individual liberty.
And that's not counting financial regulation, economic stimulus, college lending reform, and all the other bills that became law under Pelosi. So spare me the tears and gloating about her so-called failure. If John Boehner is speaker of the House for the next 20 years, he'll be lucky to match her achievements.
Will Republicans revisit health care? Sure. Will they enact some changes to the program? Yes, and Democrats will help them. Every program needs revisions. Republicans will get other things, too: business tax breaks, education reform, more nuclear power, and a crackdown on earmarks. These are issues on which both parties can agree. Which is why, if you're a Democrat, you deal with them after you've lost your majority—not before."
While the Democratic Party experienced a fleeting electoral loss this November, it is nothing compared to the progressive gains it ultimately achieved.