Hello Republicans,

I wish I could say otherwise, but I’m afraid to say that there’s really no way you can afford not to vote for the new American Health Care Act. The bill is a humanitarian travesty that would deprive millions of hard-won health care and further enrich the wealthy, but I assume these are features and not bugs to you, so let’s table that. To those of you uncomfortable with voting for it, just remember this: there is literally nothing your party can fuck up that won’t be rapidly forgotten. Nothing. So don’t be so frightened! You might as well vote for the AHCA knowing full well that it will fuck up American healthcare. The political consequences of this will likely be short-term and may be more manageable than you think. The long run consequences will be much worse, but as your sometimes bugaboo Keynes said, in the long run, we’re all dead (admittedly, an uncomfortably poignant term to use now, but nevertheless).

Let’s look at this objectively. During the early 2000s, you ran the whole government. You started a pointless war of choice in Iraq that has in all likelihood only begun to destabilize and wreck the entire Middle East. You directed the apparatus of the state to torture essentially because a fictional character did it. You also fell into the endless trap of bloated empires in trying to create an Afghan state, which in case you forgot is a conflict that we are still actively fighting. You enacted huge tax cuts that (along with Alan Greenspan’s monetary policy and Dubya’s homeowner policy) helped to inflate the real estate bubble. When it popped, quite a lot of people lost everything, though thanks to the credit card industry-giveaway bankruptcy rollback you implemented a few years earlier it was even worse on people than it would otherwise have been. You responded to that with calls for austerity, based on a crock academic study that you never really believed anyway, but which made the recovery even worse. In a halfway-sane country, your party and the your movement would have been out of power for a generation after compiling that record, untouchable, radioactive.

But this isn’t even a halfway-sane country.

Sure, passing the AHCA would be a disaster on par with the ones I mentioned before. But the funny thing is, with just a little bit of facile rebranding, the Republican Party bounced back faster than Alan Partridge. The media ate it up, inexplicably finding garden-variety Bush-era Republican Paul Ryan to be some kind of redemptive figure. You won the House back in 2010, and only a few years later you had the whole enchilada again. In fact, thanks to our broken media, your own fuckups have become advantages in a twisted way. Rather than emphasizing the obvious chain between the vacuum left by the Iraq War that ISIS filled, the media chose to bring back its Iraq War shtick, going full scaremonger a few months before the 2014 elections. Then there was the whole Donald Trump nonsense about the Iraq War that I don’t want to get into, but suffice it to say, while Hillary Clinton deserved tremendous blame for her Iraq War vote and her generally shitty record on foreign policy in general, it is utter insanity that she somehow wound up shouldering the entirety of the blame for the war, while the party that still reveres its architects has effectively escaped blame. Thanks to the media’s indefensible “both sides” policy, Republican fuckups must be matched with Democratic fuckups in order to keep balance. Its why Hillary Clinton’s emails got so much coverage: she clearly made a mistake, but the notion that this one mistake rated anywhere near Donald Trump’s top twenty is silly. The public, though, rewarded this malpractice with record donations and subscriptions. My point being that if you fuck up health care, they’ll need to compensate by seizing onto some Democratic failing or other, lessening the impact. And then you can use that momentum to blame it all on them. This is, sadly, a complete inevitability from our courageous media truth-tellers.

So why not pass the AHCA? You managed to evade blame among some parts of the public for the housing crisis by blaming it on black people and poor people generally rather than stupid rich bankers who didn’t even understand what they were holding, so surely the jackals of FOX News and talk radio are up to the task again with healthcare. Admittedly, the short-term losses are bound to be rough. The 2018 and 2020 elections could be as bad as 2006 and 2008 were, though probably not given gerrymander maps enacted since then. But even if they’re that bad, let’s face facts. Your rapid rebound last time provides an easy blueprint for the next time, too. The liberal resistance to Trump upped the ante from what the Tea Party did to Obama, so you can blame liberals when you up the ante even more. I know you like to do that. Most likely, the democratic nominee in 2020 isn’t going to be Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, but more likely some mediocre “safe” choice like Andrew Cuomo, who would be more than happy to work with you. I can already see it now: after all, we’re going to need all that money Andrew can raise to compete with the Koch Bros? (Never mind how that turned out in 2016, or 2004 for that matter.) Even if it’s not and Democrats get someone halfway decent like Kirsten Gillibrand or Sherrod Brown, you can simply obstruct them all the way again. That is what you do best, after all. You can count on Ross Douthat to write columns on how Donald Trump was such a reasonable compromiser by comparison to whoever his successor would be and why can’t a good man like Herbert Hoover be back in the White House again, David Brooks will inveigh against their agenda as being in violation of medieval values, cynical types like Mitch McConnell can talk about what a nice, reasonable man Barack Obama was in comparison to the new person, or whatever. You get the picture. Most importantly, no Democratic president will touch healthcare for another generation, and when they do, history tells us that the proposal will be even more modest than the one that came before. From Truman’s opening bid of single-payer insurance through ClintonCare and then the ACA, it keeps getting less ambitious, less generous. It’s pretty difficult to imagine something more modest than the ACA that could still be technically considered universal health care, but perhaps we’ll find out. At any rate, the backlash to a new Democratic president, the implications for future health reform, the off-the-charts amnesia of the public coupled with a broken media and your own propaganda machine, make this a pretty easy sell.

Admittedly, in the long run, this may not work out so great for you. The collapse of private insurance could well pave the way for single payer, since a major obstacle to that is loss aversion. Admittedly other obstacles remain (they’re called “doctors” I think, I’ve heard they like to make lots of money and don’t like making less money), but if there isn’t anything to lose, then “Medicare for All” becomes pretty damn appealing. And, ironically, the death of ObamaCare would be an absolute calamity to Trump’s white working class supporters, killing off many of the people who are willing to wage your class war against themselves because black people. That wouldn’t be so good for your electoral prospects, though given partisanship trends, one wonders just how many would actually turn against Trump over this. Then again, even if you lose some of those folks, at some point you’ll suddenly discover that a key minority is “truly American” in the same way that Irish and Italians weren’t a century ago, and that Eastern Europeans weren’t half a century ago, but now are. Pretty magical how quickly a group goes from being suspect and un-American to being humdrum as soon as Republicans court their votes. But in the end, the prospect of electoral losses, long-term brand decline, and, oh right, a humanitarian catastrophe–what does that compare to FREEDOM! And if there’s anything that spells freedom more than The Health Care Status Quo Ante of 2008, I don’t know what does.

–Lev

Share
Lev filed this under: ,  

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *