TrumpCare Symbolic of History’s Progressive Ratchet
Once again, the American political center has been shifted leftward, as a Republican President and Congress have demonstrated their principled opposition to a progressive program by promising to keep half of it forever. The House has passed, and President Trump signed, what Right Scoop accurately calls an “Obamacare reform package.” Not the promised repeal, and not even a dubious “replacement,” but a mere reform of a law hitherto denounced as unconstitutional and un-American.
This act of cowardice (at best) or duplicity (more likely) is consistent with the pattern of progressive advance over the past one hundred and seventy years or so.
(Wait — what’s with the “hundred and seventy year” thing? Don’t we usually mark the beginning of America’s progressive era with the election of Woodrow Wilson? Yes, if we don’t care about the ideas and gradual civilizational shifts that made Wilson’s presidency possible. Horace Mann was instituting the Prussian school model in Massachusetts in the 1840s. William Torrey Harris, a Hegelian idealist, was the first federal commissioner of education in 1880s. If you think the German-influenced neo-mysticism of global collectivism and the regimented caste society ruled by a progressive elite just popped out of a box in 1912, you need to start reading some history. Might I suggest, as a starting point, The Case Against Public Education, available on this website?)
The pattern is well-known and simple enough: The so-called left runs roughshod over the Constitution and the spirit of self-determination to pass laws, or entrench bureaucratic hyper-regulations, that centralize more power in the federal government while gouging out chunks of the natural liberty America’s founders had sought to preserve — all in the name of eradicating social ills, of course. Then the so-called right, having succumbed without a fight to the rhetorical hogwash about the underlying social ills — i.e., having accepted the left’s implicit premise that government exists to coddle the individual through life’s difficulties — argues that the left’s solution “goes too far” and should be reformed with a view to undoing its “excesses.” Once in a position to effect change, then, the movement claiming to represent conservatives proves its mettle by taking a perfunctory one step back for each of the left’s two steps forward.
The effects of this pattern are profound. For its result is not merely a failure to undo bad laws, but, more significantly, a continual shift in societal perceptions concerning what constitutes the moderate position on any given issue, or on the role of government in general.
When Ronald Reagan recorded his famous warning against socialized medicine in 1961, his view was considered relatively mainstream, not extreme at all, but rather just a precise and eloquent statement of the basic “conservative” position on healthcare: the federal government should not be involved in this industry, period.
Today, Donald Trump, a freewheeling real estate entrepreneur and now GOP President, and Paul Ryan, a supposed aficionado of libertarian fountainhead Ayn Rand (whose ideas on socialized medicine helped to galvanize conservative opinion of the sort represented by Reagan’s recording), have conspired to ensure that some basic premises of Obamacare will officially become permanent fixtures of the platforms of both major parties, that there shall no longer be any principled separation between left and right on this issue, and that crony capitalism, the wheel-greaser of modern American government, shall continue unabated in the healthcare industry through subsidies to the insurance companies. (Rand Paul, the elected Republican who has been strongest on the principles involved in this issue, explains the cronyism well.)
Once the ticker-tape stops falling on the GOP parade and the glad-handing photo-ops have tapered off at the White House, what will America be left with from all of this? A bipartisan acceptance that it is the role of the federal government to control and manipulate the healthcare industry; a mass-forgetting of why many Americans used to think socialized medicine was an evil idea on principle; and therefore an ever-widening door for future “reforms” in the direction of full single-payer healthcare, the deeper theoretical premises of that tyrannical policy having already been officially granted by the only political party that might have presented an opposing view.
The Republican Party and its well-trained supporters in “the conservative media” are claiming victory today, not realizing, or not caring, that this Pyrrhic victory has guaranteed that nothing will ever again be done to combat the advance of one of socialism’s most important moral revolutions, the public acceptance that decisions and options regarding the preservation of a man’s own body — his physical existence, and hence his very life — fall legitimately within the purview of the State. In other words, that you are property of the government, to be used and disposed of as the government sees fit.
Welcome the beginning of a new healthcare era in America.