The instant I learned that House leaders had pulled their health care bill, my mind flashed back to seven long years of campaign promises and fundraising pitches. The GOP fought its way to electoral ascendancy in part through consistent, steadfast, and loud pledges to repeal and replace Obamacare. That was the promise to GOP voters from coast to coast, and it motivated millions of Americans to vote, to give, and to volunteer. This was one of the great causes of the Obama-era conservative movement.
And now, with Republicans controlling the White House and both houses of Congress, Speaker Ryan says health care reform efforts are over “for the foreseeable future.” Perhaps it’s the cynic in me, but as the political world moves to battles over taxes, immigration, and trade, it’s easy to imagine the “foreseeable future” quickly becoming the indefinite future. It is possible that seven years of campaigning, organizing, and fundraising just culminated in . . . whatever happened today.
I hope not. I pray not. The consequences of long-term failure could be grave. Even in polarized times, a critical mass of voters have proven that they can and will switch sides in sufficient numbers to punish the party in power. Obamacare never “fixed” American health care — and, as the legions of Bernie fans demonstrated — desires for true single-payer health care have only seemed to grow in the progressive heart. Obamacare may well be one day repealed and replaced. It just might not be the Republicans who make that happen.