Ron Radosh

The Left Worries about what Obamacare's Failure Means for the Future: What We Must Do to Respond

The latest polls tell us the brutal truth: Each day, Barack Obama’s popularity declines and more and more Americans are coming to reject Obamacare. It is no wonder that, quite suddenly, the president and Nancy Pelosi are referring to it as the Affordable Care Act — a blatant attempt to dissociate the measure from the president. The ABC News/Washington Post poll, for example, tells us that 56% of the public disapprove of the job Obama is doing and 55% disapprove of ObamaCare.

Writing in National Journal, Josh Kraushaar tells us in plain words that “there’s nothing that Democrats want more than to change the subject from Obamacare.”  Congressional Democrats especially “don’t want to be dealing with a drip-drip of news about premiums going up, patients losing their doctors, and a broken health care website as they face angry voters in 2014.” Obamacare, in other words, is a gift to conservatives and Republicans that never stops giving.

What really worries them, as Kruashaar puts it, is that over time “enough Democrats may join Republicans to decide to start over and scrap the whole complex health care enterprise.” If they weren’t so worried, the president would not have come up with his “fix” that, in reality, threatens the entire exchange market, which is the essence of the ACA.

So, at a moment when “even its most ardent supporters are running for the hills,”  it is no wonder that the American Left is beginning to worry that their entire social-democratic and socialist agenda is in danger of complete collapse. They are right to be worried, when already they have found that blue-state Democratic liberals — all bona fide “progessives” — joined Republicans to vote for GOP legislation that would help destroy the law. Here is what Maryland Rep. John Delaney, a Democrat in the bluest of the blue states, had to say: the ACA “is not working.” And Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick of Arizona said that Obamacare “is a disaster for the working families in my Arizona district who badly need quality, affordable health care.” They know that Obamacare is not giving them that, and indeed, is making things worse.

The biggest freak-out came on the website of the New Republic, from none other than its self-proclaimed renewed-Marxist journalist, John B. Judis.  Republicans will maintain control of the House in 2014, he writes, and there are “warning signs” about whether Democrats can even keep the Senate. This assessment comes from the man who is co-author of The Emerging Democratic Majority. So if Judis believes the party he supports is now in grave danger of losing both houses of Congress, one must pay attention.

He tells us that in North Carolina in August, Senator Kay Hagan was up eight points over her Republican challenger, according to Public Policy Polling. Now she is tied. And he warns us that in Montana, South Dakota, and West Virginia, Democrats are now the underdog.  Indeed, he thinks the Democrats could even lose Senate races in Iowa and Michigan!

But what really worries TNR’s most left-wing columnist and editor is what it could mean for the entire progressive — i.e., leftist — agenda. Acknowledging that Americans have, since the days of the  Founding Fathers, always had a distrust of government, Judis thinks that the entire edifice of “Americans’ support for government social and economic programs” is in danger of being eroded. “But if Obamacare doesn’t work as promised,” he writes,  “then its failure will have reinforced for a generation the argument against any government initiatives.” The country, he is concerned, might be doomed to “inaction.”

A few days ago, the center-right columnist Kathleen Parker presented her stark judgment about what Obama desires:

In other words, Republicans oppose Obama’s policies, not the man, because they believe the president will so inexorably change the structure of our social and economic system by mandating and punishing human behavior that nothing less than individual freedom is at stake. Under present circumstances, this hardly seems delusional. Does anyone really believe that subsidized policyholders with pre-existing conditions won’t eventually face other mandates and penalties related to their lifestyle choices?

At Restoration Weekend, from which I returned yesterday, luncheon speaker Monica Crowley told the audience that she suspects what the president intended was to pave the way for complete socialized medicine, to be created as a single-payer system after the existing ACA fails. As she put it in her blog, referring to Obama’s continued lower poll ratings,

Of course, Obama doesn’t care much about any of this, for two reasons: 1) he’s not running for re-election, and 2) he’s only interested in the “fundamental transformation of the nation” toward full-blown socialism/statism/dependency—of which socialized medicine is the cornerstone. That’s his end-game, and nothing—I repeat, nothing—will stop him from achieving his goal.

I believe that Crowley is correct. That is why it is so important that in 2014 Republicans not blow the possibility of taking both houses of Congress because they are waging a useless fight against the faction that one side or the other disagrees with in our own ranks.

Moreover, Sean Trende, one of the best of political observers, warns us that in the long run it is hardly certain that Obama’s low polls mean that liberalism has seen its waning days. Differing with others, including Charles Krauthammer, Trende makes  a strong argument that such an overblown prognosis comes way too early. His overview of the American past shows that just as it seemed that one party or the other was doomed to permanent defeat, a changed situation allowed it to rebound and once again elect either a tough conservative or the equivalent left-liberal to dominate politics for another long set of years. He ends with these wise words of warning: “Obamacare’s collapse wouldn’t be a good thing for liberalism. It wouldn’t even be neutral. But it wouldn’t be the end of the liberal ideology, either.”

For such a result — to use the words of the late Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci — we need to wage a war of position, and to challenge the ideological hegemony of liberalism and liberal ideology. That means we must challenge the entire culture of liberalism in its most basic sense, and provide conservative alternatives to the entire set of liberal bromides that are continually put forth. It means we have to wage a fight in the universities, in the entertainment industry, and throughout the culture at large. This will eventually lead to victory in the electoral arena.

But in the meantime, let us start by working hard to keep the House and take the Senate in 2014 — two necessary goals to begin the job of repealing ObamaCare and creating a solid conservative alternative that would address the problem of health care for the currently uninsured, and that would not be the stepping-stone to a single-payer system.