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Can the Moral ‘Narrative’ of ObamaCare Be Defeated?

The government should not rob men to pay their neighbors' medical bills.
Related: "Hopenchange 2010: It’s Come To This."

by
Paul Hsieh

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March 4, 2010 - 12:00 am
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President Obama has finally demanded an “up or down vote” on his health care plan. Republicans have already raised numerous economic and procedural objections, arguing that his plan relies on economic “smoke and mirrors” and that the president is now endorsing the same controversial “reconciliation” process that he denounced in 2005 as a senator as “the wrong place for policy changes.” Yet the president and his supporters remain committed to their goal of government-run “universal health care.” Why is that?

The key is Obama’s declaration, “I don’t know how this plays politically, but I know it’s right.” Ultimately, Obama and his liberal base believe that government-guaranteed health care is a “moral imperative” — i.e., “it’s right.” And that will also be the key to defeating it.

As Leonard Peikoff once wrote, “So long as people believe that socialized medicine is a noble plan, there is no way to fight it. You cannot stop a noble plan — not if it really is noble. The only way you can defeat it is to unmask it — to show that it is the very opposite of noble. Then at least you have a fighting chance.”

Hence, one must challenge ObamaCare not merely on the economic or procedural levels but on the moral level. One must challenge the underlying moral “narrative,” which runs something like this:

“No one should live in fear that they could get sick and be unable to afford treatment. Everyone has a basic right to health care. Hence, the government must guarantee basic ‘health security’ for everyone, regardless of their ability to pay. That’s just the right thing to do.”

Opponents might argue that any attempt to guarantee an alleged “right” to health care necessarily infringes on the freedoms of those obliged to provide and pay for such care. The liberals then typically reply:

“What good is freedom if you’re dying of cancer? Freedom won’t pay your medical bills. Freedom is overrated when your life is at stake. I’d rather have the security of guaranteed health care, not freedom!”

Yet a curious inversion occurs when liberals discuss similar issues of freedom and domestic security.

Suppose a would-be tyrant proposed preventing terrorism by imposing a comprehensive system of domestic surveillance. The government would monitor all conversations, track all personal spending, and conduct random personal searches, arguing that:

”No one should live in fear that a terrorist bomb might snuff out their life at a moment’s notice, while shopping for groceries or playing with their kids in the park. Safety and security are essential to civilized life. Hence, the government must guarantee ‘universal security’ by monitoring potential terrorists before they strike.”

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