Early this morning the Supreme Court of the United States announced its ruling on the controversial PPACA bill (often referred to as ‘ObamaCare’) that has been the subject of much rhetoric and what passes for ‘debate’. In short, they voted to uphold the entire bill – and the reactions by some on the right are a worthy example of how an utter disconnect from reality has become standard for a substantial amount of political discourse.
I’ll pause briefly to interject my own opinion on the bill; I (as, I suspect, many people from a country with a functioning universal healthcare (UHC) system) find it perplexing and disappointing that America has once again decided to be obstinately different and overly-complicated in its approach to social policy that has frankly been settled for decades everywhere else. Instead of expanding the already extant (and almost universally loved) Medicare program to cover all Americans, the new bill instead further entrenches the dominance of private health insurance by requiring almost all Americans to purchase it, or else be subject to a tax increase. America with PPACA is better off with it than without it, but only because the situation so far has been embarrassingly terrible. The USA finally has healthcare for all, but in a makeshift, capitalistic, awkward sort of way. And even then only barely.
As mentioned, rational discussion on the topic is scarce, and hyperbole is plentiful. Sarah Palin, always desperate to appear relevant, jumped straight in with some classic knuckleheadedness:
Sadly for Palin, Senator Rand Paul was already preparing his own reality-bending response to the ruling, deftly displaying the sort of denialism we’ve come to expect from the Republicans:
“If the truth doesn’t agree with what I want, then the truth must be wrong.” Remember kids, don’t strain yourself trying to use facts against those who have made it clear they inhabit their own private reality. Logic and reason are useless against those who cannot utilise those concepts.
There’s plenty of knee-jerk responses from the public, too. BuzzFeed has compiled a short list of people who are moving to Canada because of today’s ruling. Certainly, one can understand why a strident opposition to health coverage would lead one to mov- wait, Canada has publicly-funded health care for all. Well, they must be offended at the notion of paying any additional taxes fo- oh, hold on, publicly-funded means ‘paid for through taxes’. Well then, freedom or something. It’s only democratic when I get things my way, after all.
The judgement itself gives clues to the partisanship currently dividing the Court; broccoli is mentioned twelve times, which may or may not be because of some esoteric relevance that is lost to a layperson such as myself. And Adam Winkler has an interesting piece discussing how the possibility that Justice Roberts may be up to something cunning.
I consider it an indictment of the current state of politics in America not just that today’s judgement caused such a shitstorm, but that the reaction was both predictable and inevitable. The modern Republican party has clearly defined itself not so much as advancing any particular set of ideals or goals, but more as being in a state of constant, hysterical opposition to whatever the Democrats do or say. For example, the Heritage Foundation has no qualms about loudly decrying the PPACA despite having originally invented much of it – another inconvenient fact which is of course roundly denied. Attempts at bipartisan agreements or compromise are rendered useless in such a toxic atmosphere, and the functioning of democracy in general is weakened by such shortsighted childishness.
Incidentally, NPR has a rather handy interactive guide to the health care ruling for those who wish to read the entire document in full.
And finally: Dewey defeats Truman.
[Edit at 14:34 PST] Stand aside Palin and Paul, because former GOP spokesman Matthew Davis is jumping into the fray with a jaw-dropping response to the ruling:
If the Supreme Court’s decision Thursday paves the way for unprecedented intrusion into personal decisions, then has the Republic all but ceased to exist? If so, then is armed rebellion today justified?
There’s even more unbridled lunacy at the source, but it’s just breathtaking to think how deeply the sense of entitlement must run in order for this response to seem proportionate, persuasive, rational or anything approaching normal thinking. If this were a regular citizen and not somebody associated with the GOP then no doubt he would already be facing arrest for such statements. Even Mike Pence’s comparison to September 11 (since retracted) seems like so much forgettable bluster in comparison. If the Republic will cease to exist, it will not be because a single decision did not go your way, but because the general public and political speakers have forgotten how to engage in informed debate, and are reduced to infants screaming after they are denied dessert. How shameful.