What Transpires When People Who Hate Civics Run Things
Last week, after seven years and over 60 attempts to fashion legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, the entirely Republican-controlled federal government failed to do so. Badly. Shamefully. Sadly. This was without question the most devastating political defeat a president has suffered within the first 100 days in office in my over half-century of citizenship and by far the silliest. It was damned fun and pretty exciting stuff, but what we’ll deal with here is what does all of this tell us about our present governing edict?
Answer: There is none.
And that’s the point.
That was the point of exploiting the TEA Party movement.
That is the point of Donald J. Trump, businessman-and-chief.
First off, when a major political party stands for less government or in some cases no government intervention or control over just about anything, and then that party gets into power, things get sticky. Not unlike the non-vote to authorize troop deployment in Syria in 2015, even after fear/war-mongering to beat many bands and being prompted by the last president, this non-vote tells a larger tale.
It is harder to put your name on a clusterfuck than merely calling it one.
As stated above, no less than 60 times Republicans in congress voted to repeal the ACA, knowing full well the then president, whose name has been attached to it as Obamacare, would veto it. No muss, no fuss. Those are merely protest votes. Period. Protesting is fun. Better yet, mocking it, calling it names and vowing to have better and more effective policies when you’re not entirely in charge is a piece of cake. I know. I do it all the time. So do you. It’s like coaching from your couch or the upper deck. It is loud and gives you a measure of joy, but it is more or less meaningless.
For instance, Trump said about 400 times during his campaign that he would repeal and replace the ACA on his first day, which, of course, is insane, like almost everything the candidate said for 18 months and by the way continues to say as he deals with several policy failures and about two-dozen scandals now that he’s in office. Then he said it was more “complicated” than he imagined. Then he said he loved the “terrific” bill, and then not so much. Then he threatened and charmed the opposition, and when it looked like no one was buying his bilge, quickly distanced himself from it. Finally, in a hilarious turn-about in trust in the national media, called a reporter from the dreaded “fake-news” Washington Post to declare he was pulling the whole shebang due to lack of support.
This is the very definition of meaningless; like saying for over a year, “Who’s going to pay for the border wall…Mexico!” And then release a budget that has you and me paying billions for the damn thing; nary a pesos involved.
You see once promise-a-minute Donald Trump started spouting his wildly out of control and highly ill-informed unicornian nonsense about giving every American “better” and “cheaper” health care, a bomb went off in anti-government land. And since the speaker of the house has no principles and is merely a political hack trying to cobble together a tattered legacy from project shit-storm, he tried to make the thing work, despite the fact that eight-out-of-10 polled thought his bill sucked from every angle.
Most importantly, and deliciously ironic, is the fact that the Freedom Caucus, a right-wing TEA Party produced gaggle of non-politicos, who could not govern itself out of the proverbial paper bag, and who only sit in these seats because of the abject horror that the original passing of the ACA engendered among the great unwashed, hated it. And no amount of fancy reality TV, New Yawk real estate, Negotiator and Chief blather about “Vote for this to make me look good even though I have no fucking clue what’s in it” was going to change that. These guys were sent to Washington to stop government, not participate in it. Some idiot on the radio probably thought this would change when a president with an R in front of his name pulled into town; which explains the idiot on the radio, but still amounted to failure.
Or maybe not?
If the point of governing, according to say, the Articles of Confederation or the Constitution or other things that apparently no longer matter, means debating and voting and all those noisy difficult, complicated things, then this is a horror show. But if it means just stopping anything from really getting done and stripping the people of the right to clean air and checks on corporate corruption and such, then this is a rousing success.
Because for the time being this is Government Zero, a less-is-more axiom that really prefers nothing. And we will find out if this experiment works. Maybe it does. But that won’t matter either, for the last variable in this equation is us.
Until the past few weeks more than half the American people did not like the ACA. Yet, almost seven out of 10 polled loved what was in it. Then once congress and El Douche started pitching its dismantling, the law’s popularity shot up to over 60 percent.
Now you figure that out and get back to me.
And while you’re chewing on that, the House of Representatives, voted to eliminate ISP privacy rules, which means corporations can purchase your internet browsing history. The head of the EPA just lifted the ban on using pesticides on your fruits and vegetables. And if you’re Muslim, look out.
All this “stop government from doing anything” is up for debate, and has been for centuries, beginning with the “four accepted theories” for the origin and purpose of government: natural, divine, social compact, and force.
Blame the Greeks, specifically Aristotle and Plato, who theorized that humans are political beings by “nature” and could not survive without some form of government in place. Blame God or His questionable spokesman for prophesying that government is ordained from some aborted Ten Commandments template. Blame John Locke, who spent a lifetime trying to project the idea that government was purposely created by humans because they realized there was something missing to protect them and ensure their way of life. Then blame every empire that rose up from our thorny civilization for using conquest to impose government on fill-in-the-blank.
Now we can blame Donald Trump and the 115th Congress of the United States for our present stasis, which presents a fifth theory: Government Zero, in which government is in place to deny government’s origin and purpose.
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James Campion is the Managing Editor of The Reality Check News & Information Desk and the author of “Deep Tank Jersey”, “Fear No Art”, “Trailing Jesus”, “Midnight For Cinderella” and “Y”. and his new book, “Shout It Out Loud – The Story of KISS’s Destroyer and the Making of an American Icon”.