Saturday, April 1, 2017

A conservative tells fellow Republicans where to go on health care

David Frum, former speechwriter for President George W. Bush, is a neoconservative political commentator and senior editor for The Atlantic monthly magazine.  He was an early dissenter from the Republicans' rhetoric against Obamacare and warned against their obstructionism -- and he met with disapproval, even ostracism, from the party faithful for his "lack of message discipline."  That was seven years ago.

Now that Republicans control both houses of Congress, as well as the Presidency -- and still couldn't manage to carry out their promised repeal of the Affordable Care Act, Frum has written a new piece for the Atlantic, called "The Republicans' Waterloo."  In it, he refrains from saying "I told you so," to his fellow free-market conservatives.   But he does get around to talking honestly about where the American people have come to on the question of health care, and he has advice for the Republicans about what to do now.   Below are excerpts from that part of Frum's article.

". . . . In that third week in March in 2010 [when the ACA was passed], America committed itself for the first time to the principle of universal (or near universal) health-care coverage.   That principle has had seven years to work its way into American life and into public sense of right and wrong.  It's not yet unanimously accepted.   But it's accepted by enough voters -- and especially by enough Republican voters -- to render impossible the seven-year Republican vision of removing that coverage from those who have gained it under the Affordable Care Act.

"Paul Ryan still upholds the right of Americans to "choose" to go uninsured if they cannot afford to pay the cost of their insurance on their own.  His country no longer agrees.  What happens now? . . .  [Here follows a discussion of the questions that will have to be settled, like how much coverage?   who pays? etc.  Then Frum writes:]

". . . . Conservatives have a crucial role to play in shaping the future American health-care system to enhance and support enterprise, innovation, individual responsibility -- to resist open-ended spending, state planning, and the risk that social insurance will penalize effort and success.  It's past time to accept reality, quit promising the impossible, and do the work that a democracy that seeks both equality and efficiency should expect from its more conservative-minded thinkers and politicians.

"Whatever else the 2016 election has done, it has emancipated Republicans from one of their worst self-inflicted blind spots.  Health care may not be a human right, but the lack of universal health coverage in a wealthy democracy is a severe, unjustifiable, and unnecessary human wrong. . . .

". . . .What I would urge is that those conservatives and Republicans who were wrong about the evolution of this debate please consider why they were wrong:   Consider the destructive effect of ideological conformity, of ignorance of the experience of comparable countries, and of a conservative political culture that incentivizes intransigence, radicalism, and anger over prudence, moderation, and compassion."

That is the kind of conservative voice that has been drowned out by the "intransigence, radicalism, and anger" that has taken over the Republican party.  No one, save possibly John McCain or Lindsey Graham, dares speak with such a voice.   But maybe this humiliating defeat for current leaders will allow more who agree to stand up and speak --- and work with Democrats to improve and advance the Affordable Care Act.


1 comment:

  1. A ray of sunshine...!
    And hope.
    Thanks for sharing that.