Alea iacta est. That’s what Julius Caesar proclaimed as he crossed the Rubicon River in 49 B.C. It means, “The die is cast.” By crossing the Rubicon with his army – against Roman law – Caesar guaranteed a head-on conflict with the overconfident Roman ruler Pompey. Outnumbered, Caesar was presented with the choice: win or die.

I didn’t quote Jonah Goldberg this morning just because I like Latin tags. Nope, I quoted Goldberg because he makes perhaps the most compelling point to be made about 2012: The Democrats will ensure that GOP Medicare reform the main issue, and Republicans have two choices. They can do Pompey, who didn’t want to fight, or they can go all Caesar. They must do or die.

Goldberg writes:

There’s an entirely plausible case to be made that the GOP bravely blundered in passing the Ryan budget. I don’t agree with that argument. But again, so what?

A surefire way for that claim to be proven true is for Republicans to start hemming and hawing and apologizing for what they’ve done. Look, the House of Representatives passed it with a near-unanimous vote among Republicans. Forty Senate Republicans voted for it as well. Republicans can’t run from that, so they shouldn’t try.

The one advantage the outnumbered Caesar had was that he and his battle-tested forces understood that there was only one solution to their plight: victory.

The occasion for these thoughts on the coming Mediscare is the loss of Republican Jane Corwin in the heavily GOP NY-26 congressional district. Medicare reform was a big issue, though it’s now clear that Corwin embraced it but then failed to make the case. Jonah isn’t the only one counseling fight rather than flight.  

Mona Charen: For Democrats to win with Mediscare tactics, the voters must remain ignorant; the GOP has to make its arguments more effectively than Corwin did.

National Review Editors: Republicans must show voters what will happen to Medicare if it is not reformed.

Robert Moffit: Failure to reform Medicare will impoverish a country that is already drowning in debt-but Medicare can be reformed.