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so dangerous, so reckless, so inherently destructive

I feel I have to pass this along, because, well, because the federal government has been shut down and that seems like a Big Deal. And some the students I talk to at my place of employment have asked things like why? and what the hell? and hunh?, and I don’t really have a good explanation for them. Specifically, the question that perplexed my acquaintance and flummoxed my attempt to answer was what it was, precisely, about the Affordable Care Act that made it worth this sort of fight.

I said it was an increase in the federal involvement in the market. I ought to have said it was an expansion of the welfare state, which is equally true and perhaps more effectively put. The student, however, was smart enough to note that there was already government involvement, and sure, this was an expansion but it didn’t seem like that big a deal. Not to shut down the government over. Which seems like a reasonable response—you can like the ACA or not, you can have policy preferences that are different from mine, but what is it about the ACA specifically—not Social Security or Medicare, not SCHIP or WIC, not unemployment insurance, not subsidies for vital industries—that makes this the place to make a stand.

Digression: I was going to say their Waterloo, but that’s not right. Not their Thermopylae, either. Their Marathon? Their Alamo? Their Lexington and their Concord? Their Stalingrad? It seems like I should know this and I’m not thinking of it: the battle where the defenders stand athwart and they don’t actually lose. End Digression.

So it turns out, in this internetty facebooky world, that a friend of a friend contributed to a thread where he said:

The ACA is so dangerous, so reckless, so inherently destructive that given the implementation dates of the law this is probably the last best effort to prevent it from become effective. At all costs it must be eradicated into oblivion. There have been 3+ years of shallow, weak, phony, ineffective at alternate legislative methods for it’s [sic] demise to no avail.

I was flabbergasted. Really? That destructive? And from a guy who seemed, at the internet remove, to be a pretty decent fellow. I’m kinda cheating him, really, making him look back with that possessive pronoun apostrophe, which is totally unfair as witness my own myriad of typos throughout this Tohu Bohu. I don’t know the man, of course, and the fbf he is fbfs with is a former castmate I almost never see, so it’s not like I can know what he’s like—but he’s a hockey fan (Red Wings and some ECAC team) and he likes Monty Python. And Rush Limbaugh. The latter of which is presumably telling him about the dangerous, reckless and inherently destructive Affordable Care Act.

This is what struck me about Paul Waldman’s not over at TAPped called What Happens to Conservatism When the Obamacare War Is Over? He notes that “Obamacare has swallowed conservatism whole”, that “this [opposition to Obamacare] is what it means to be a conservative”. I don’t know if he’s correct, but it does seem to explain a lot of the behavior and tone. At all costs it must be eradicated into oblivion.

Which of course leads Your Humble Blogger, a lefty from way back, to wonder how the conservatives of our world, the folk who like hockey and Monty Python and Rush Limbaugh, will react to being so totally wrong about Obamacare. I admit that it could be me who is wrong, and not for the first time, but if—as the evidence tells me is the case—Obamacare is just another bit of the mixed economy, a reaction a generation on to the development of health insurance in the first place, soon the be as matter of fact as the rest of the welfare state, then will those conservatives feel betrayed and cheated? Will they turn on the people who have misled them? Or will they forget all about it?

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,


I note that Hartman's Law of Prescriptivist Retaliation hath struck thee, not once, but twice. I like to think that you saw those ("look back" and "Waldman's not") as well, nodded sagely, and let them stand.

er... yes, that's exactly what happened.


Well, people will respond differently, and that's what makes life interesting and fun . . .

The response option that you don't lay out is the one that I think is most likely among those committed to Conservative Ideology--they will add Obamacare to the list of disastrous social programs that are eating away at America, joining welfare, SNAP, Medicare, and Social Security in the growing pantheon of government evil. Consider that Social Security has existed for almost 80 years, and Medicare for almost 50, and that these programs allow the elderly to live with dignity and health, while SNAP helps to keep millions of Americans, especially children, from going hungry. And a certain set of conservatives revile these programs and would do away with them if they could. For them, no aspect of the welfare state is matter of fact, and it does not matter if the Affordable Care Act is a success or a failure by any set of economic or social welfare measures that might be employed to evaluate the program. It is morally corrupting to depend on the government, and any program that makes people more dependent on government by improving their lives is the most pernicious, cunning sort of evil, because it seduces people into accepting, even liking, dependence on government. It is the potential for the Affordable Care Act to succeed and to become part of the new normal that makes it so dangerous.

Thanks for writing about this because I have also been very confused as to why *this* is the hill worth dying on, even from a conservative perspective.

(Battle: Pelennor Fields? Is that when Aragorn gives the "but it is not this day" speech?)

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