Obamacare Made America Better, And Conservatives Were Completely Wrong About It (Again)
A Big Effing Deal, A Good Effing Deal
Back in the heyday of 2009-2010 as conservatives played Revolutionary War cosplay by wearing tri-corner hats and hanging tea bags over their noses, the right insisted that Obamacare was going to destroy America.
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As they held aloft their racist signs depicting President Barack Obama as an African witch doctor, they assured us that we would be plunged into a socialist nightmare where health care would be rationed, good doctors would quit, and panels of ghoulish government functionaries would operate death panels to kill your grandma.
None of it happened. Not a single bit of it.
We are now well over thirteen years into the era of Obamacare and what America has to show for it is over twenty million people who might otherwise not have it now covered by health insurance, no barriers to coverage from preexisting conditions, while at the same time unemployment is down to 3.7% and the U.S. economy is strongly rebounding from a global pandemic.
In retrospect, the success of Obamacare sure makes all of the garment rending worrying by Democrats and the fearmongering from Republicans (amplified by their allies in the mainstream media) seem pretty stupid, doesn’t it? But this shouldn’t be a surprise. Conservatism almost never gets anything right, especially when it comes to social policy designed to help ordinary citizens.
An ideology like conservatism, which is designed to maximize wealth for giant corporations and the already-wealthy, has a hard time seeing value in building a safety net for the vulnerable. That is why conservatism gets so defensive and nasty when liberals propose big fixes for what ails us. Go back to no less a conservative icon than Ronald Reagan, who in 1961 warned that Medicare would herald the coming of a socialist dictatorship in America. Or just go back to early 2021, when Democrats passed the American Rescue Plan and Republicans said we would be in an era of massive job losses and forever inflation because with free money “nobody wants to work anymore.” Just utter nonsense, disproven over and over again.
I’m a pessimist when it comes to how the mainstream media will handle this sort of thing. No matter how often conservative fearmongering is disproven, in tandem with clear failure of conservative policy (no, tax cuts for billionaires don’t create growth, no deregulating the financial industry doesn’t lead to glorious self-regulation but rather is a green light for scammers), the media will never come out and admit that this stuff doesn’t work. At best, the media insists that the world of politics is “narrowly divided,” ignoring that most people (including many Republicans) actually prefer center-left policy solutions, and at its worst the media operates from the false promise that liberal ideas have failed in America (they haven’t).
But what is a bigger problem is how Democrats and liberals in general deal with this dynamic. If anything in conservatism worked as well as Democratic ideas like Social Security, Medicare and Obamacare, the right would never shut up about it. They still crow about millionaire tax cuts even though they failed under Reagan, Bush, Bush again and then Trump!
Democrats, on the other hand, are still too apologetic about their ideas that work. In 2010, more Democrats ran away from Obamacare than those who stood up for it. To this day, Democratic leaders like Presidents Biden and Obama are still talking about cutting the deficit as if anyone actually cares about it. Faced with clear Democratic successes, Democrats still too often rhetorically operate from within a framework erected by conservative know-nothings.
Instead of apologizing for success, liberalism should make frequent and vociferous victory laps, celebrating with loud indoor voices the triumphs of the safety net and regulation and oversight, rather than throwing out far too many caveats and “to be sure” rear-covering statements.
Conservatives made a mistake by labeling one of the biggest domestic innovations of the last forty years after the sitting Democratic president. The idea was that health care reform was such a mess that slapping Obama’s name on the enterprise would drag him down. It was a branding gamble that has utterly failed, and now most people forget it is called the Affordable Care Act because we all call it “Obamacare.” Imagine if Republicans of the Depression area had been similarly tone-deaf and referred to Social Security as “Roosevelt Security?”
Going forward, history is on the side of those who realize conservative ideas fail and conservative criticism of liberal remedies are either just wrong or openly dishonest. Either way, they misread what ails us and advocate for measures that don’t help at all.
The people holding up racist signs and howling about “death panels” are not experts on policy or medicine, and we should start treating them that way with all the disdain and dismissal they have earned.
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Exclusive Kal-El Photo
Kal had anesthesia this week for a tooth cleaning and it left him at medium speed for about half a day. As much as I complain about the vigilant guard dog, it was weird to have him acting as aloof as a “normal” dog. Bring back my murder hound! LOL.