HOW MANY ELECTIONS UNTIL THEY HAVE CONSEQUENCES?…. Following up on an earlier item, there was something else Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) said yesterday that deserves some attention.

In talking to constituents yesterday, the conservative Democrat suggested reform could be done in two parts. The first would find cost savings in the system, and be completed this year. The second would extend coverage to the tens of millions of Americans with no insurance, and Congress could debate this some other time — perhaps in 2011, after another round of elections.

Voters should be able to evaluate “what’s been done and what remains to be done” before they go to the polls, Nelson said.

“Public debate can occur in the context of an election,” he added.

Look, I realize Nelson isn’t exactly a “team player” when it comes to his party’s legislative agenda, but voters already went to the polls. There was already an election. It just happened, 10 months ago.

President Obama ran for the White House and his signature domestic policy initiative was health care reform. Voters approved — he won the highest percentage of the popular vote of any candidate in 20 years, and the highest for a Democratic candidate in 44 years.

Likewise, Democrats ran on a party platform that called for “affordable, quality health care coverage for all Americans.” The platform called this coverage “a basic right,” and positioned health care reform as the centerpiece of the Democratic domestic agenda. Voters, in turn, gave the party huge majorities in both chambers.

Nelson, in seems, isn’t convinced that constitutes an electoral mandate, and would prefer to wait until another election cycle goes by — one in which Republicans are expected to make gains, undermining the chances of passing real reform.

These are the comments of someone who opposes health care reform. One can hope that Nelson was playing to the crowd, and is willing to be more constructive on the Hill, but at this point, I really wouldn’t be surprised if Nelson, when push comes to shove, sided with Republicans on a filibuster.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.