If the “enemies list” of people who will be hurt by the Republican tax bill gets mad and “woke” enough to overcome GOP gerrymandering and vote suppression next November, and Democrats regain the majority in Congress, I am fine with Bernie or Jon Tester or Heidi Heitkamp or Claire McCaskill writing “Medicare for all” on a cocktail napkin and having that become the law of the land. Mitch McConnell’s flouting of “regular order” and the sight of a Senate bill with X-ed out pages and jotted corrections in the margin is abusive and undignified and regrettable and infuriating–but mainly because the substance of the bill is an attack on the social contract between generations. Fixating on process “violations” won’t win over very many “forgotten men and women” who voted for Obama as well as Trump. Democrats can and should focus on the bad effects, the bad substance, the uncertainty and insecurity and unwelcome changes the bill imposes on many millions of voters. Jon Tester’s video was great, but the big story is the heavier burdens being laid on middle-income American voters. I believe that is the winning message. Substantive injustice is the big issue, procedural issues are an irritant but a side issue.
Shall we skip all the fake news and go straight to the Senate healthcare–and-by-the-way-big-tax-cut–bill? Will Trump sign this bill, even though it is probably just as “mean” as Paul Ryan’s House bill? Trump managed to appeal in 2016 to both the pro-oligarchy voters and the pro-ochlocracy (endless demands from the plebes) voters. Now he will have to choose. Master brander that he is, he will try to distract and evade blame no matter what, but the McConnellCare bill guts Medicaid in the name of freedom. The struggling Trump voters, and even relatively well-off Trump voters, who think Medicaid only benefits THOSE people are in for a surprise. Maybe not right away, McConnell is figuring not on his watch, but sooner than many voters think, they are going to find their parents kicked out of nursing homes and into their spare rooms, or worse. Will Trump realize before he signs a bill that presidents do get blamed for the consequences of their actions? (Not to mention stuff that they really shouldn’t get blamed for.)
Republicans have persuaded millions of fairly prosperous but more-insecure-than-they-may-know voters that the real governmental problem is “ochlocracy,” or never-ending-demands from the masses of “other” and undeserving people. In fact, the US stands alone among advanced economies in its stingy-and-inefficient-at-the-same-time healthcare system. A universal risk pool could really cut down on overhead costs, but we just aren’t ready to go there yet. Obamacare took several right-of-center (Heritage Foundation before Jim DeMint) ideas and some technocratic ideas and made giant steps toward access to health care, but did not create a robust public option, let alone move toward a Medicare-for-all system. Now the Republicans are on the verge of a huge cutback of healthcare access, and at the same time a huge tax cut for the wealthy.
If you believe we do not have enough inequality of wealth and opportunity, McConnell and Ryan are your guys. If you thought Trump would usher in a golden age of terrific healthcare for everybody, you may be out of luck. Ciao ciao sayonara ochlocracy, hello even-more-rock-solid oligarchy. And Mr. Trump, will he be blamed? I thought he was toast when he disrespected POW John McCain, so what do I know? Prince Harry may say nobody wants to be king, but he doesn’t know our Trump.