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Democrats must NOT allow Republicans to repeal Obamacare



It looks like TrumpCare is dead, thank goodness, although judging from its resurrection in the House a few months ago, you never know if it will rise from the grave, Dracula-like, to haunt us again. Still, I welcome this latest blow to Trump’s agenda. Anything that slows him down and frustrates him is good for the country and the world.

Actually, calling it an “agenda” is a stretch. I don’t think anyone truly believes Trump has an agenda, beyond empowering and enriching himself and his family. Even if he has the vague outlines of one—say, repealing and replacing Obamacare (which seems based more on his personal resentment of Obama than any true concern about healthcare), tax overhaul (which means tax breaks for billionaires), infrastructure spending (remember his $1 trillion promise), ending the Iranian nuclear deal (which he just recertified), making America respected overseas (ha ha on that one), the Mexican wall (as if…), slowing down the fight against global warming (Yay, Gov. Jerry Brown!)—he’s batting zero so far. He seems more content to reign as a ceremonial King rather than a Chief Executive Officer, allowing his parliamentary minions to determine actual policies, and blaming everyone but himself when there are no accomplishments.

The Republican Party’s internal split is the same as it’s always been—ultra-conservatives versus “moderates” (although in a super-right political party the word “moderate” has to be taken with a grain of salt). We saw this in 1964; again in 1976 and 1980, and, after it took a hiatus, in 2012, when Romney beat Santorum. Now, nowhere is this split more evident than in the reasons why the first two GOP Senators to come out against the Senate version of TrumpCare, Rand Paul and Susan Collins, gave for opposing it.

Paul, as we all know, was for complete, total repeal, without replacement. I don’t know much about Kentucky, but my guess is that this deep red state is run by anti-government Breitbart types and evangelicals, who are going to be in favor of the Republican Party no matter what, unless the GOP tries to demolish Christianity, which it’s not about to do, since the two entities—Republican Party and evangelical Christianity—have pretty much morphed into the same. Up in Maine, a more pragmatic and moderate state, Collins was for “fixing” Obamacare, and in particular preserving the Medicaid provisions that are so important to her rural districts. I know for a fact that she received a ton of calls from constituents telling her to oppose TrumpCare, because I have a lot of friends in Maine, which is not a very populous state, and they tell me they worked really hard on her.

It’s difficult to fathom how Paul and Collins are in the same political party, with such utterly different world views. Paul, who calls himself a libertarian but acts more like an old-fashioned, unreconstructed southern, state’s rights, Strom Thurmond-type conservative, doesn’t want the government involved in healthcare (or anything else besides the military), while Collins seems to allow for some government role in people’s lives. To be fair, both of America’s major political parties always have allowed for wide divisions within themselves to accommodate these splits, which in the Democratic Party occur between Clinton-style moderates and leftward-leaning folks like Barbara Lee (my congresswoman) and Bernie Sanders.

I think most Democrats are moderates. I can only judge from my own experiences, but my cohort—Baby Boomers—are part of the Democratic Party’s base, a core constituency that’s voted Democrat since LBJ’s time. These are not far-left radicals, believe me. We may believe in universal healthcare, and raising taxes on the superrich, and reining in the power of corporations and ending the “dark money” horror of Citizens United, and taking steps to control global warming and protect the environment, and being helpful towards unions and immigrants and public schools. But we’re not wild-eyed radicals who want Washington involved in all of our decisions. We’re tough on crime (although there are divisions about that in the party). We’re pretty evenly split on going to war (I think most of us agree it’s necessary when America’s security is at stake; the problem is deciding if it really is or not). We don’t like discrimination against anyone based on their ethnicity, race, religion, sexual preference or ability status, because we’re fair-minded. But we wonder about things like welfare, and if it’s being abused by people who game the system. (I think it is.) And we, like Republicans, are rightfully concerned about WFA—waste, fraud and abuse in the system. We want to get our money’s worth for our tax dollars, but we certainly don’t believe in squeezing the lifeblood out of the federal government, because we’ve seen how valuable it is in the lives of countless U.S. citizens. And we will not tolerate an end to, or diminution of, Social Security or Medicare.

I think a good many Republicans would agree with what I just wrote, although some might not publicly admit it because their constituents are so right-wing. The policy of the Democratic Party ought to be (and is) to target Republican congressmen and senators in purple districts, so that Dems regain control of both houses of Congress next year. Then, starting in January, 2019, even if Trump or Pence or some other Republican is president, we can effectively neuter them. They seem pretty neutered now due to their own incompetence and extremism, but we want to make sure that Dracula is really, really dead, not just pretending to be so he can arise again and kill.

Finally, Democrats: When and if there is bipartisan negotiation between Democrats and Republicans regarding healthcare, insist on this: THERE CAN BE NO REPEAL OF OBAMACARE, just improvement. The name “Affordable Care Act” must be preserved no matter what. When you hear a Republican, from Trump on down, talking about “Repeal Obamacare” what they’re really saying is “Repeal Obama”: they want to render invisible his administration and presidency, his accomplishments, the man himself. They want to expunge him from history. Anyone who thinks Republicans suddenly care about healthcare–when they’ve never shown the slightest inclination to do so–is living in LaLaLand. So call your congressional representatives and demand they keep the Affordable Care Act. Change it where it needs to be changed, but don’t dare to change the name. Republicans used the word “Obamacare” as a curse. Democrats will use it as a blessing.

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