The Meaning of Kinda-Sorta Obamacare Repeal and Replace
Okay, so the House passed a “repeal and replace” ObamaCare bill. And it doesn’t really repeal ObamaCare and doesn’t really replace it.
Is that good or bad? Is that a win for Trump or a loss? If you read Newt Gingrich, it is a win for Mark Meadows and Tom McArthur, leaders of the right and the moderates in the House, Speaker Ryan and Reince Priebus, and of course President Trump: they all got it done.
Have Trump and the Republicans done the best deal possible, or have they punted, like so many Republicans before? Is this all we get after electing Donald Trump to be President of the United States?
More important, does this even begin to deal with the problem of the “ratchet effect,” the notion, publicized by Margaret Thatcher’s people, that it is almost impossible to undo the latest entitlement program?
The answer, of course is no. President Trump won the 2016 election by bringing the white working class into the Republican Party, and the white working class still believes in Big Government. It paid its dues into Social Security, and it wants its money back in pensions and health care. So the Trump coalition cannot reduce government any more than the previous edition of the Republican Party.
You can rant all you want about RINOs and GOPes and squishes, but that is the reality.
There are millions of people who want their ObamaCare subsidies and pre-existing conditions, and a lot of them are Trump voters; that is why House Republicans have been backing and filling on ObamaCare. That is why 20-odd moderate Republicans were allowed to vote against ObamaCare repeal-and-replace.
The facts on the ground are that the majority of Americans want big government and its benefits. That is just the way that most people think. It is also, of course, the way our children are taught to think when incarcerated throughout their childhood in government child-custodial facilities.
Personally, I don’t like that. I don’t like the idea that our culture and our politics are based on the idea of the ruling class ladling out free stuff to its clients and calling the result justice. I think that a free people tells the rulers to put it where the sun don’t shine.
If, like me, you want to change that, then you are going to have to change the way people think. You will have to create a cultural movement of Americans dedicated to the proposition that the only right thing is for responsible Americans to create “social goods” in free cooperation together without the clunking fist of government running it from the top down.
If your movement succeeds then it shifts the political Overton window so that the average Good Little Girl in her safe space thinks that liberal big government is an embarrassment: “I can’t believe the Democrats are proposing that.”
But would it be possible to create a politics that is not based on the idea of rallying people with the eternal offer of pillage and plunder as a reward for support, a politics based instead on a cultural movement with a faith in agency and dependable people glorying in their shared and generous independence?
That’s the question I raised in a recent blog post, and I thought that if I was thinking it, someone else would be thinking the same thought too, because I am not that smart and because humans are social animals and seldom think a thought that someone has not already thought before them. So the very next day I stumbled into C.R. Wiley, author of Man of the House, writing about Alec Steele, a
19-year-old blacksmith [who] has agency, the freedom to do something worth doing. This freedom is not so much a right as it is an achievement.
“Agency” on Wiley’s idea, is the achievement of making yourself “dependable” It is the opposite of voting for a political party with the hope of getting free stuff, where you are declaring yourself a dependent, in thrall to your neo-feudal liberal lord.
If we really want to shrink the megastate then we need a million Alec Steeles with agency and a million Lucy Steeles (no, not that one) virtue-signalling their women friends against dependency. We would need a culture that celebrated responsibility, dependability and agency and voted our current liberal gods of off Mt. Washington and ended the death spiral of victimhood for the elite’s little darlings.
But will there ever be an America where most people don’t want free stuff from government and instead get their kicks from telling the politicians and the activists to put it where the sun don’t shine?
I doubt it. And so, all hail ObamaCare-lite, because that’s the best we can get.
The result of lusting after free stuff, unfortunately, is Venezuela. But we can kick the habit way before that, right?