Pre-Nihilist Policy Making: Differences Matter

It’s hard to remember in the era of Republican Senator Mitch McConnell, but the official Republican position on any policy question was’t nihilism. While it’s currently acceptable for one party not to pose any solutions at all (for just about everything), time was Republicans felt obligated to do so. Which brings us to an observation by Martin Longman about healthcare policy (boldface mine):

If the Republicans hadn’t demonized the Affordable Care Act, they could use it for their alternative model to what the many Democrats will be pushing for on the 2020 campaign trail. This shouldn’t surprise us. The Affordable Care Act was modeled on the Massachusetts health care law that was established while Mitt Romney was serving as governor of the Bay State. And the Massachusetts law was based on a 1993 plan the Heritage Foundation promoted (very disingenuously) as an alternative to HillaryCare. So, we’ve been here before.

The Republican dilemma is that they hate the only solution that would approximate what they actually want. They hate it because President Obama signed it into law. They hate it because they’ve lied about this law nonstop for more than a decade and those lies are very internalized.

The result is that they’ve boxed themselves out of the health care debate. They really want to be defending the Affordable Care Act or something nearly identical to it. They want to defend this kind of system because they very much prefer it to the “national-monopoly provision on the British-Canadian model.” But they can’t really defend the status quo because they told everyone that the status quo was a Marxist-Leninist takeover of the American economy.

The Democrats will defend the Affordable Care Act against attacks, but they won’t defend it for long against better alternatives. So, how do the Republicans position themselves? They can try proposing something like the Affordable Care Act and call it something else. Maybe introducing some Swiss or German elements would give them some cover to attempt this, although they’d still be proposing “European health care.”

I think Longman might be giving conservatives too much credit: given the batshitloonitarian takeover of the GOP, many probably believe that if you can’t afford private healthcare, then you deserve what you get. That said, to the extent they feel the need to offer solutions, Obamacare is the obvious, albeit toxic for them, solution.

When Republicans were more cunning, they used to be much better at offering bullshit policies that would still serve their donors while providing a surface appearance of problem solving.

There’s also something for rank-and-file Democrats to consider: in days of yore, conservative Democrats would also offer ersatz policies that were smoke and mirrors. I see too many Democrats believing that a plan, even a bullshit one, is a sign of seriousness and good intentions. For those who remember the pre-Republican nihilism era, simply having a plan does not necessarily imply good intentions. It’s worth keeping that in mind during the Democratic primaries.

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1 Response to Pre-Nihilist Policy Making: Differences Matter

  1. Ron Zoscak says:

    “When Republicans were more cunning, they used to be much better at offering bullshit policies that would still serve their donors while providing a surface appearance of problem solving.”
    You mean before they left the GOP to become “centrist” Democrats? 😉

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