You probably know somebody like this.
You heard them complain in 2009 about “what Barack Obama’s doing to health care in this country.” They considered it an unconstitutional takeover of a critical part of the economy. They thought Sarah Palin nailed it when she talked about death panels. They agreed with Rush Limbaugh when he claimed that the Affordable Care Act was a form of reparations. They believed that the stories of people dying due to lack of health insurance were exaggerations at best, hoaxes at worst. They believed that anyone who didn’t have good health insurance was a deadbeat.
They were thrilled when Scott Brown won in January 2010, hoping that his conquest of Martha Coakley would derail the bill once and for all. They were horrified two months later when Obama signed the bill into law. They were overjoyed that fall, when Democrats lost the House.
They cheered as Republicans voted over and over again to repeal Obamacare. In 2012, they donated every spare dollar to the Romney-Ryan campaign in the hopes that a President Romney would kill the damn thing once and for all–and were inconsolable when that ticket lost. Two years later, they cheered as the GOP seized the Senate. Two years after that, they rejoiced when Donald Trump cleared 270 votes in the Electoral College.
They don’t care about CBO scores. They want Mitch McConnell to get all the votes he needs, and can’t wait for the day when Trump signs the Better Care Reconciliation Act into law. They’re planning to party. Finally, they’ll say to themselves, our money won’t be used to provide health care to a bunch of goddamn deadbeats.
Let’s say that the worst happens (don’t assume it can’t), and Obamacare is obliterated. Then, one day, you learn that they fell through the health-care cracks. They can’t get health insurance in a post-Affordable Care Act world. They could be facing bankruptcy…or death. They never thought it would happen to them. They never thought they’d need that which they effectively voted to abolish. They don’t know what to do.
What would you do? Would you have any sympathy for them?
In my case, frankly, I’m not sure my answer would be “yes.” The folks who voted for Trump inflicted long-lasting, potentially irreversible damage upon this country. Because of their vote for Trump–and their previous votes for anti-Affordable Care Act Republicans in the House and Senate–Obamacare could well be replaced with Osamacare, a bill that would terrorize, injure and yes, take the lives of possibly millions of Americans.
The GOP has for decades promoted itself as the party of personal responsibility. At what point will the folks who effectively voted to inflict suffering upon their fellow Americans take responsibility for their actions? At what point will they realize that right-wing media entities have been lying to them for years about the alleged horrors of the Affordable Care Act? At what point will they wake up?
Ignorance is not an excuse. Partisanship is not an excuse. The day that the Affordable Care Act is repealed will indeed be a day of infamy in American history, every bit as catastrophic as the hypothetical repeal of the Civil Rights Act or the Voting Rights Act would be. Standing in front of the hospital door is just as much of a moral atrocity as standing in front of the schoolhouse door.
If you had an acquaintance who, by virtue of their votes, was complicit in this moral atrocity, what would you say to them–especially if they were later hurt by their own Election Day choices? Would you be able to resist the urge to rub their votes in their faces? Or would you show them the compassion they intentionally refused to show to their fellow Americans?
The potential demise of the Affordable Care Act proves that the arc of the moral universe sometimes bends away from justice. We came to this point because of hatred–the right’s hatred of Obama and his efforts to expand access to health insurance, the right’s hatred of the perceived beneficiaries of the Affordable Care Act, the right’s hatred of the very concept of government helping people. If someone you know cast their votes for President, Senator and Representative based on this hatred, and later found themselves deprived of access of health insurance because of their votes, what would you say to them? Even if you did express compassion, would you think to yourself: Hey, pal, you made your bed, now go lie in it?