Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) speaks with reporters as he leaves the Capitol following a vote on June 26, 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)
In Monday's Wall Street Journal, Weekly Standard executive editor Fred Barnes did his best to knock some sense into GOP lawmakers, advising them to compromise on healthcare ("Republicans Aren't Team Players"), but it seems Jerry Moran and Mike Lee, at least, weren't listening. The Kansas and Utah senators announced they would vote no on their party's plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, joining Susan Collins and Rand Paul in the nyet column, therefore tanking the bill.
Bravo to them. They maintained their ideological purity. But that's the problem, because in so doing they have put our country on the royal road to single-payer healthcare. You can depend on it.
If Moran, Lee, and, of course, Paul think for one moment that as the Affordable Care Act continues to go into a tailspin the public will clamor for a free-market solution, I have the Brooklyn and several other bridges to sell them, including the "bridge too far" (all of them). By not coming together to solve the problem, the Republicans have encouraged and prepped the electorate to turn against them and move toward the Democrats' heart's desire -- socialized medicine.
So when you're standing in line for government medical care in a few years, waiting for an operation you should have had months before, you'll know whom to thank.
Politics is not just the art of the possible; it's often the art only of the marginally possible. Large changes, particularly in something like healthcare, are extraordinarily difficult to achieve and need the most ardent team play. Democrats, honed on schoolboy marxism, know that. Republicans, a significant number anyway, apparently don't care as long as they can appear untarnished to their constituents -- or is it to themselves?
They say not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good. In this case, it's letting the perfect be the inadvertent friend of the nightmarish.
Excuse the minor self-promotion but in June 2016 I published a book on moral narcissism, which I differentiated from the standard narcissism of the Kardashian type in this manner:
In twenty-first century America, it's no longer just how you look, but what you believe or claim to believe that defines you as a person and makes you "good." Moreover, the actual consequences of those beliefs are not important, even deliberately ignored. The proclamation is all. The ideology is you. It is your essence you reflect outwards to friends, relations and employers, even the world in general.
This is related to virtue signaling but it is not quite that. Moral narcissism is the underlying personality defect that makes people virtue signal, that makes the phenomenon so necessary and pervasive. It's the cause.
Most of my book (I Know Best) dealt with the ills of liberals and progressives in this regard. Their moral narcissism -- their proclamations of ideological purity and "goodness" irrespective of the results of those ideals -- extends across the spectrum of issues from global warming to race and practically everything in between. But this is clearly a case of moral narcissism on the Republican side. We are not immune.
Paul in particular is guilty of this. He may be right that a pure free-market system is best, but so what when his stubborn adherence to his views eventually yields the opposite, something far worse in the real world. Indeed, Rand has made his point (again and again), but you should reach a moment when you move on -- if not for the greater good, then to prevent a serious bad.
Now we are faced with that serious bad. How do we get out of it? Will there be a last-minute reversal? Will Trump's call for a repeal work? Anything's possible. If not, make room in your wallet. Your government healthcare card is coming soon.