Conservatives shouldn’t be dismayed by the failure of the Republican bill–against which there were excellent arguments. They shouldn’t even be dismayed by the fact that the bill was so flawed. Health care is a huge and complicated issue, different Republicans have different views, congressional Republicans have not had to come up with a governing agenda since the late 1990s, and on and on.
What conservatives should be dismayed by is that Republicans are taking the failure of this bill to be the last word on Republican health policy for, as Speaker Ryan put it, “the foreseeable future.” And it’s not just Ryan and President Trump. Other Republicans seem more eager to blame each other for failure–it’s the Freedom Caucus’s fault! it’s Trump’s! it’s Ryan’s!–than to ask why exactly Republicans are quitting after only a few weeks.
The Democrats spent more than a year passing Obamacare; they spent, arguably, seven decades building support for it. Republicans are making a deliberate choice, right now, to continue being less serious on this issue. It is one within their power to reverse.