There is a brief piece by Jonathan Last on Bart Stupak that can be found on the former's website. It deserves attention -- for, alas, it is apt. Here is a teaser:
Our political order is based around what voters believe to be a kind of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs for our elected officials. At the top of the pyramid are high-minded hopes about wisdom and judgment. But at the base of the pyramid–the foundation for our relationship with our officials–is that we trust them to be self-interested. That is to say, we trust them not to deliberately do something so abhorrent to us that they know for a certainty it will cost them their jobs.
I would argue that the passage of Obamacare damaged the political order because it broke this basic compact. And I don’t particularly blame President Obama or Nancy Pelosi. Sure, they drove the process. But that’s what their constituencies wanted from them. The engine governor for such radical change has always been guys like Stupak, who wouldn’t go along with it because they knew they couldn’t get away with it.
But Stupak didn’t keep up his end of the bargain. He violated basically every tier of the politician’s Maslow hierarchy: He didn’t believe in Obamacare, he didn’t like Obamacare, and he knew that voting for it would cost him his job because his constituents hated it. But he did it anyway because pure partisanship overrode every other concern. That’s not supposed to happen.
I’m sure Bart Stupak is a kind and gentle soul. But he failed as an elected official, with terrible consequences for the body politic. He abandoned even the old pro-life Democratic line, which may have hardened the fight over abortion into political amber. And his failures are not merely personal. They are a national tragedy.