GOP Fight Against Health Care Goes Beyond Politics

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  • I guess some people would rather live with their failure than risk crediting someone who doesn’t look like them for turning it into a success.

    By some people, I mean the Republican lawmakers, state attorneys and legions of Tea Partiers who are hoping that perhaps as soon as tomorrow, the Supreme Court will throw out the Affordable Health Care Act.

    Since President Obama and the Democrats passed the act in 2010, the attacks from the right haven’t stopped.

    Abetted by ideologues and Obama-haters, they’ve been steadily telling people for the past two years that the act is an assault on individual liberty because its key provision requires most people to buy health insurance rather than get sick and pass the costs onto the people who are insured; insured people who are, in fact, embracing the principles of personal responsibility that they say they favor.

    They’ve been telling people that if the government – “the government” in this case meaning the black man who leads it – can force you to buy health insurance, it’s the next step to a dictatorship; that soon, Obama will be declaring himself president for life.

    Crazy, yes.

    But what’s crazier is what the GOP hasn’t been telling people: That the individual mandate that they’re screaming for the Supremes to reject was originally a policy idea many of them embraced in the late 1980s.

    Conservative economists developed the idea of making people buy health insurance because they were searching for a market-based approach to health care instead of a government-supported one.

    Even the hard-right Heritage Foundation liked the plan, and according to The Week, during Clinton’s effort to get health care reform passed in the early 1990s, 20 Republicans co-sponsored a Senate bill that formally proposed the individual mandate.

    On top of that, Mitt Romney, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, revived the idea when he initiated health care reform in Massachusetts.

    Yet we hear nary a peep from the Tea Partiers and right-wingers who now support Romney about whether he’ll try to impose a “dictatorship” by forcing people to buy insurance – even though he’s actually signed a law that requires people to do that.

    Few, if any, journalists have asked the Republicans why they were for health care reform and the individual mandate before they were against it – or rather, why it was a good thing when some of them were considering it and why it’s a bad thing now that Obama has actually signed it into law.

    The answer that many people would give is that it’s politics, plain and simple. And I’d buy that if I didn’t have eyes and ears.

    But I do.

    And what I’ve seen is that much of the virulent opposition to Obama’s health care law is coming from the Tea Party; a group that has virtually hijacked the Republican party and whose opposition to Obama is steeped in racial resentment than in any genuine concern for freedom and liberty.

    What I’ve seen are anti-health care rallies with Obama being caricatured as a witch doctor, as an ape, or as Hitler. I’ve read about how, in 2010 when the bill was being signed into law, anti-health reform protesters called civil rights veteran Rep. John Lewis and many other black lawmakers the N-word, and even spat on them.

    So this isn’t just about politics.

    It’s about trying to deny the nation’s first black president a place in history that would put him alongside the likes of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Lyndon Baines Johnson, for fixing a problem that has dogged this country for decades; ensuring that people don’t lose their homes, or their savings, or suffer needlessly because they can’t afford to pay for health care.

    It’s about stopping Obama from doing something that no other white president has been able to do – because if he actually succeeds at something like this, it blows their notions of superiority.

    I guess to the Tea Partiers, seeing a black man succeed at something like this is a threat to their liberty, because it denies them the psychological freedom to define all black people as failures.

    So we’ll see what the Supremes say. But whichever way it goes, none of the GOP’s fight against the Affordable Health Care Act was about preserving freedom and liberty.

    It was about keeping the black president from earning his place in history.

    Tonyaa Weathersbee is an award-winning columnist based in Jacksonville, Fla. Follow her at tonyaajw@twitter.
     

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