Democrats should be thanking the Republicans in Congress. Not because they have been nice, but because they have been pricks. Nothing makes the Democrats looks better than the pricks in the Republican Party.

The Republican elites have unloaded every nasty thing they could possibly say about the president, which means that there is nothing more they can say. There can be no more ratcheting up the rhetoric.

Democrats in Congress should find this state of affairs extremely liberating.

The day after this year's State of the Union address, New York Magazine columnist Jonathan Chait wrote, "The first two years of the Obama presidency were a frantic rush of policymaking with barely any concern for political messaging, which suffered as a result. [Last night's] State of the Union address was just the opposite. President Obama knows full well that Republicans in Congress will block everything. In the absence of policy, he is backfilling the political narrative."

Chait's concern was with the Democrats' ability to win elections. He was saying that Republican obstructionism and the standstill in Congress are giving Obama more liberty to break out the campaign stump speech without worrying about hurting his legislative agenda.

But just as the Republicans' obstructionism gives the Democrats the freedom to campaign without worrying about the legislative consequences, the Republicans' rhetoric allows the Democrats to move to the left without worrying about alienating independents.

When the Democrats were pushing for a relatively minor healthcare reform law that left profit-making insurance companies in control of the industry, the Republicans called it "a government takeover of the healthcare system, socialism;" and said the government would be healthcare "rationing."

What happens now if the Supreme Court rules the individual mandate unconstitutional and the Democrats are forced to return to the issue of healthcare reform next year?

If the law is overturned, next time around the Democrats should really push for "a government takeover of the healthcare system." They should create a single-payer system, or even nationalize hospitals and make all doctors government employees. They could do it, and it would be constitutional.

Indeed, Duke law professor Walter Dellinger was quoted in The New Republic as saying, on the second day of Obamacare's Supreme Court hearing, that the plaintiffs were basically arguing in favor of the constitutionality of these nationalized options.

The Democrats may well have a large Congressional majority again if conservative distaste for Mitt Romney drives down Republican turnout in November. Further, moderate Democrats would have no viable alternative to the liberals' single-payer proposal if the Supreme Court strikes down the individual mandate. The measure was their idea back in 2009; moderates like Joe Lieberman, Max Baucus and Ben Nelson pushed for it early on.

If the Supreme Court strikes the mandate down, healthcare is still an issue and moderate Democrats know it. They will have no other choice but to go along with their more liberal colleagues.

What would the Republicans do if the Democrats pivot to the left? Rather, what is the worst they can do? Refuse to constructively participate in the bill-writing process? Vote against the final product along party lines? Filibuster it? Call it a Nazi-Communist plot to kill your grandma and bankrupt the country?

Guess what? They have already done that!

Words are not absolute, and can change meaning each time they are used.

Many Americans may not be happy with Obamacare but, at this point, they realize that grandma is safe. The Armageddon that Republicans predicted has yet to arrive.

The next time a Republican calls a Democratic proposal "socialism," Americans will just hear the message that the Republican thinks the proposal is "kind of bad" or not something he, personally, would vote for.

In the past, the word "socialism" conjured images of Stalin and the Berlin Wall. If a bill or a program was labeled as "socialist" in 2008, many Americans immediately dismissed it.

Now the word only conjures up images of things like the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Education. By labeling these things "socialist," Republicans have diluted the meaning of the word. Some people may not like the EPA or the Department of Education, but the two cannot be compared to Stalin.

No longer will the word, or any of the other attacks Republicans threw at Democrats during the last healthcare debate, pack the same punch.

The result is that the Democrats have a free pass to go as far left as they want without taking any more flack than they did for taking a moderate approach. The attacks on the Democrats will be the same next time around, and the Republicans will suffer for their obstructionism.

Congressional Democrats can stop worrying and do what they like. They should go for it.

Sam Vitello is a member of the Class of 2013.