I was struck by a blog-post by Erick Erickson today. I wasn’t struck by its nihilist extremism – that’s completely unsurprising. I was struck by a simple phrase in it. Here’s the full quote:
Conservatives need to keep their focus on the [ACA] overall. The website is a reflection of a terrible law. The law is causing millions to lose insurance, millions more to pay more for insurance, and the best the Democrats can do is claim it’d work well if the GOP didn’t think nasty thoughts about it. As we all get back to business today, we must remember the law itself is the problem — not the website. The website they can fix. We must deny them the opportunity to fix the law itself. Let the American people see big government in all its glory. Then offer a repeal.
My italics. Leave the facts aside for a moment (this is from RedState). Am I crazy to infer from these words that Erick Erickson is not actually in favor of people losing their health insurance? Am I mad to conclude that he is also against people losing health insurance when they get sick, or when they lose their job, or if they have a pre-existing condition that bars them from real health insurance for life in the free market? I wouldn’t go so far as to infer that Erickson regrets the fact that tens of millions of Americans have never had any health insurance to lose – let’s not get carried away here – but the general principle of being against the loss of health insurance might allow for such a thing.
Which leads me to an obvious question. What would Erickson actually do to prevent people losing insurance if Obamacare were repealed? It has happened to millions before Obamacare and would happen even more after repeal. The answer, so far as I can tell, is: nothing. So none of this has anything to do with healthcare or health insurance at all. It’s just about ideology. The GOP has no interest in practically reforming the system to improve access or seriously cut costs or address the huge free-rider problem. It even seems to imply most of the time that the health of a citizenry should be of no interest to the government at all (even as it is bankrupting the government and punishing business). The GOP is, in this sense, a sect, not a party. Its goal is to advance and reiterate an eternal ideological doctrine – “the evil of big government” – rather than proposing anything to address contingent and obvious problems in our post-Reagan socialized healthcare system.
This is the reason behind the frenzied in-fighting about who is the most ardent defender of orthodoxy rather than about who might actually have the best policy proposals for our mess of a healthcare sector. Norm Ornstein, once a totem of middle-ground consensus at AEI and now a startled Cassandra on Republican nihilism, puts it this way:
I’ve not seen anything like this before. It is just such an interesting phenomenon — call it anthropological or sociological or pathological. An obsessive hatred with all things Obamacare that has infected everybody on the Republican side. They can’t say anything positive about any element of a law that is based on their own fundamental ideas. It means that when anybody says something that could in any way be construed as positive regarding Obamacare it becomes fodder for attacks. … Conservatives are eating their own.
And they think this is the way back to the White House! They seem to have forgotten that a party that is much more interested in punishing heretics than winning converts is doomed to failure or narcissism or both. Right now, they are breathing the fumes of spite. That is not the same as political oxygen.
Meanwhile, on the Dish today, I spoke of my deepening love of my native land, England, fresh from a trip to London and Sussex. I lamented what seems to be the intensifying death-spiral of magazines. I pondered how deep a challenge to the American right Pope Francis now presents.
If you have vertigo, people are not so awesome. Yes, there is such a movement as lucid dreaming. Some great fine artists became what they became because of lead poisoning – in their paint. And yes, there is also such a thing as passive-aggressive punctuation in social media.
Good to be back in the USA. See you in the morning.