So What Happened on March 23, 2010?

In a brave effort to understand the “Defund Obamacare” campaign as something other than an expression of what I’ve called Nike Existentialism (Just Do It!), The Atlantic‘s Molly Ball interviewed one of its tribunes, ForAmerica’s Scott Hogenson. This excerpt is especially interesting:

[Ball]:Is there ever a time when one side of a policy debate has to admit they’ve lost? The vote was held, the other side won, and now it’s the law of the land and it’s time to move on?

[Hodgenson]: That’s an interesting argument, but if it really is the law of the land, why is the administration making side deals with Congress to exempt them? Why are they delaying the employer mandate? How come they’re not putting the lifetime caps into place? How come the data hub is not yet secure? You can say this is the law of the land, but the implementations says otherwise. The implementation says, “We’ll do whatever we want.”

Fascinating. From the day the Affordable Care Act was enacted, every Republican in Congress and most Republicans in state and local governments have done everything imaginable to interfere with its implementation, and have systematically opposed the kind of legislative “fixes” that are normal for any major new law, while loudly cheering for its failure. Now we are told that executive measures to make the law work mean that it’s not the law of the land. So what exactly happened when the president signed this legislation on March 23, 2010? Does the legitimacy of a law depend on acceptance of it by its opponents? Think about the implications of that theory, and recall that not so very long ago Republicans tried to drive a president from office on grounds that his efforts to hide sexual impropriety threatened the very Rule of Law.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.