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  • Lance Mannion
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Weldon Berger

Obamacare doesn't insure everyone and won't even when fully implemented in 2020, and the people who will be covered under its provisions won't be covered equally well. While it may fulfill your requirement of having enough people on your side to preserve it, it ought also to engage your kind, decent-hearted, well-meaning and generous streak in a concerted effort to replace it with something that will cover everybody in equal measure.


Weldon, in a perfect world we would have a single-payer system (or, in my perfect world, a health-care system operated by the government with federal employees as doctors, nurses and others). In this world, there are enough people who believe a decent health care system will harm them financially that it's unlikely we will see a significant upgrade in the ACA anytime soon.

Weldon Berger

In a perfect world, Mark, we’ll never be sick, we won’t get any older and we’ll never die, to borrow a heavily mustachioed turn of phrase. In this world, a major impediment to a health care system with universal access and without class-based tiers of service is the infuriating, passive-voice liberal insistence that it can't happen and anyway, what we got is pretty good. But it isn't. People will still die for lack of care, people will still drown in medical debt and poor people will still get care, when they can get it, that is generally inferior to what's available to the well-off among us. What I want to hear from liberals, or whatever, is "This thing is better than nothing but it still absolutely sucks and we will deservedly burn in hell if we don't do everything within our power to fix it."

Lance Mannion

For the record, I'm on record as being all out in favor of single payer. And as wishing we could have at least gotten a public option. And not because I'm a decent and generous guy, but because either would have given more people more of a share in the benefits more immediately and so put them on my side. But my point here isn't whether or not we could have gotten something better. I agree with Mark. It wasn't going to happen. Evan Bayh and Joe Lieberman made sure of that. And it isn't whether or not Obamacare as it is is all that good in and of itself. It's sure helping my family already, but I still wish we had single payer. My point is that as it is Obamacare is an example of a conservative means to furthering a liberal end. It protects the status quo while giving more people more opportunity to share in the benefits of the status quo.

That the status quo could use some shaking up and how to bring that about are subjects for another post. (But not necessarily for another comment thread, so, please, carry on.)


"Obamacare is an example of a conservative means to furthering a liberal end"

I think you have it exactly wrong, Lance. Obamacare is a means to blocking any prospect of real reform, likely for decades to come. It's divide and rule, doling out some benefits to selected groups to gain support for prolonging the insane cruelty and waste of the status quo.

The partisan cheerleading in favor of this makes me ill, nothing more so than the Big Lie about universal coverage, which you have repeated in this post. Surely you know better, so why are you doing that?

I also think you're off about the nature of conservatism. It isn't necessarily working to preserve the status quo -- the politics of the last several decades should have relieved you of that notion. What conservatives conserve is heirarchy and unequal rewards.

Lance Mannion

paintedjaguar, I try to be very careful not to refer to the Republican Party in its current state as a conservative party. It is a party of Right Wing reactionaries, an alliance of, as I say in the post, the corporatist Right, the Religious Right, and the Tea Party Right. They aren't defending the status quo. They want to disrupt and replace it with their dream of a Right Wing, Christian, White, Patriarchal, and authoritarian America that never was. Hardly conservative.

As for Obamacare not serving any liberal ends, you'll have to ask the people of the People's Republic of Massachusetts how come its model Romneycare passed their overwhelming Democratic state legislature nearly unanimously and why it enjoys such popularity.


As the saying goes, the perfect is the enemy of the good. If you constantly reject a progressive step because it doesn't go far enough, you will end up taking no steps at all. At least most of the time. I think in some circumstances there can be enough of a public sense that change is needed that even the obstructionists can't prevent it. But that time isn't now. There simply isn't enough support for true universal coverage or a single-payer system. Surely you can't deny this, when so many older voters support the obstructionists who actually intend them harm. People I know and love would vote for them, despite the fact that their policies harm not only themselves, but also the ones that they love.

There is a classic case that involves politics in Georgia, back in the late 60's. Lester Maddox was the Democratic nominee running against Republican Bo Callaway. A lot of Democrats wrote in another candidate, and the result was that Georgia did not get a conservative Republican, but instead got a backwards-riding bicyclist who met potential black customers at his restaurant with a pistol.

Weldon Berger

Mark, the crappy is at least as much the enemy of the good as is the perfect.

Lance, that's great that you're benefiting from the ACA. Many millions of people aren't and won't. That's essentially the political point of the plan: to help enough people enough that the urgency of helping the rest is dulled.

Kevin Wolf

Lance, your image of the Unholy Trinity of the current GOP (corporate, religious, and Tea Party) is right on the money. An excellent post.


C'mon Mark. Lefties didn't oppose Obamacare just because it doesn't go far enough (although it doesn't). They did so because it also goes in bad directions. Here's another saying for you: "Beware of Greeks bearing gifts."

Has everyone somehow forgotten how we wound up with such a Frankenstein dog's breakfast to begin with? It was exactly by multiple iterations of the same conservative means, half-a-loaf strategy that Lance is praising here. As Lance implies, even Medicare, for all the good it's done, also enabled a large conservative contingent opposing further progress. I could go on at length about the meat of this post, but Obamacare is such a horrible example that I couldn't help getting sidetracked. Sorry.

Lance Mannion

paintedjaguar, I didn't praise anything. I'm describing a process. You don't like the process. I don't either. The difference between us is that I may be more resigned to it.

Lance Mannion

Also, and I probably should have emphasized this more, the object of liberalism is to give more people the opportunity to share in the benefits of the status quo even if that requires changing the status quo.

Ideally, when liberals succeed the new status quo is a more liberal society. That's certainly what happened with Medicare.


OK. And I don't pretend to know how to get out of the trap we're in. It may be impossible under the current US constitution and economic system. But some things are evident: Compromise on fundamental principles is a losing long-term strategy. And you were spot on in saying that successful liberalism creates more conservatives. The corollary is that even successful but partial solutions (ie Medicare) often stall out instead of expanding in scope.

By the way, in spite of the way people talk, Medicare itself is NOT a universal system, even for covered age groups. Nor is Social Security. This seems to be a typical side-effect of including conservative ideas to make liberal goals go down easier. This is just a cost of doing business of course -- unless YOU are the one who falls through the cracks.

S McCoy

Nice discussion Lance. 

I have to agree with what PJ says, the healthcare reform we got does more to preserve and protect Dem interests than change the status quo.  Ironically, it's conservatives who have proposed many more ideas (regardless whether you think they're any good), just as they have in the areas of education, tort law, the tax code, Social Security and others. 

On the other hand, I strongly disagree with your assertion that conservatives want to protect the rich and deny opportunities for the less well off. We truly believe that it's Not a zero sum game, and that the best way to help the entire population is to promote economic growth....raising taxes, nationalizing industries and building regulatory bureaucracies is no way to help the poor. 

Give us as small a government as possible - but still big enough to perform critical duties - and build a moral culture where people WANT TO care for one another, and then leave us alone. I realize past Republican administrations haven't done a good job executing this conservative philosophy, but one can still be an idealist, right?

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