I am one who has always believed that governments should adhere to and follow the guidance of their constitutions. The question is then raised however in what is to actually enforce a constitution's rules upon said government. When raised with this question, I concluded that only a significant threat level of voter scorn can perform such a deed. That in a republic of theoretical constitutional bonds, rational ignorance is the primary threat to the continued liberty of the citizens. Where they are apathetic, leviathan will attempt to shake its binding off in that particular area. Where they are fervently aware, leviathan will stay put and obey.
For example, the constitution states restrictions on the government in respect to discrimination based on race, nationality, etc. At first, government ignored these precepts, however in the present day, such is the awareness of the voter in regards to issues of race, that blatantly racist laws could never pass through the congress, and leviathan now stays put in that area in fear of the punishment it would receive were it to pull anything like the Jim Crow laws ever again.
In regards to the current health care debate, the H.R. II proposal provides a number of questionable legitimacy issues concerning the Constitution, from the inherent takings of insurance companies as the public option begins to monopolize the health care sector, to the notion of fining those who would prefer not to be insured. Surely, thought the current political administration, under the guise of good intentions, the people would prove apathetic to this issue, and the bill could be passed without challenge.
Evidently, according to the fervor of town halls and the poll numbers that correlate to them, this is not to be the case. Congressmen are discovering rational ignorance to be surprisingly absent in regards to this issue, and a career-level make-or-break decision awaits many democrats who may be partisan to this issue. Surely, given the unpopularity of H.R. II and the falling approval of President Obama on this issue, any democrat who votes for this bill can expect this to be the final act of their political career come next election, especially those democrats from districts that voted for McCain as president. On the other hand, to resist the will of the White House could alienate them from their own party, and leave them without party support in vying for their reelection anyway.
Pass or fail, negative consequences or not, the choice these congresspeople face in the vote of H.R. II will undoubtedly be one for the text books in regards of issues concerning public choice.