BY VERN TURNER
Remember when Speaker Paul Ryan said something like making the transition from the opposition party to the governing party was hard and that it would take some time?
When thinking people stopped rolling on the floor laughing, we were all left with the wonderment of: “Wasn’t that why we put them in office in the first place?”
The vision of watching the “bipartisan debate” – called by first-term President Barack Obama – to help develop the Affordable Care Act, conjures up a salient moment in the slide of the GOP toward the abyss of Third World demagoguery.
The president opened the meeting with a call to everyone to bury their ideological hatchets and actually work to develop a solid piece of legislation.
Leaders from both sides, House Representatives and Senators, were each given time to speak. No hatchets were buried and the slings and arrows blotted out the shocked look on President Obama’s face due to the rancor.
Pelosi and Reid vs. Kyl and McConnell.
In front of Sen. Jon Kyl, R-AZ, was a stack of papers presuming to refute any benefits offered by the preliminary draft of the ACA; it was especially virulent in opposing the public option. Kyl never used them; it was all for show. From that point on it was six hours of “gotcha” and nothing of substance presented or discussed at any length. This grand gesture, of course, was preceded by GOP Sen. Mitch McConnell’s infamous statement to a Republican PAC: “The primary goal of the Republican Party is to deny this president a second term.”
They failed to achieve that goal, too.
While that sounded good to Republicans, it also sounded the bell for the first round of the GOP defining itself as the opposition party. From that point forward, nothing that came from the White House was considered by the Republicans in government, including ideas originated by them. There was no governing here.
When people start wondering about how we became so divided in Washington, or how our Congress became so dysfunctional, this is the time when it all began. Governing went out the window and everything became political. Everything. The tragicomedy had begun.
For the next seven years, the Republicans in Congress bleated about repealing “ObamaCare.” This was how they played their race card in stealing the narrative. The Democrats had no counter to this slur. The “ACA” just didn’t have the same snap. The Republicans tapped into the latent racism of their constituency and that was that.
But a funny thing happened during the course of those eight years. The Republicans in the House tried over 60 times to repeal ObamaCare, but it never made it out of the Senate – even after they gained control of both houses in 2010. They knew the president would veto any bill repealing his signature legislation.
Fast forward to 2017 …
Quick take on Ryan’s Lament about how hard it is to govern: Now, as I write this on July 7, 2017, there is still no bill that does anything like “repealing and replacing” the ACA. Now that Trump is president, anything coming out of Congress will be known as TrumpCare.
So far, what came out of the House took two tries to get passed with virtually no Democratic support. The new American Health Care Act, aka the AHCA, is not well received in the Senate where 50 votes are needed [we assume that the right-wing reactionary VP, Mike Pence, will break any tie in favor of this … thing] to pass. It seems that more than a dozen Republican senators heard the shouts from their constituents that this was a bad bill. Indeed, it is. The non-partisan Government Accounting Office pointed out how many people would lose their health care altogether including some who will die because of that fact.
Well, the Congress is in recess now, and they are hearing it from their constituents whether or not they hold the Town Hall meetings that embarrass them for their obviously corrupt stances. Any energy behind pushing that bill to approval is losing steam like a busted boiler. Even Trump said to just repeal ObamaCare and replace it later. He needs to say he kept his promise.
His Dimness fails to understand that jerking health care coverage from 25 million people recreates that time of the healthcare bankruptcy merry-go-round during the Bush years.
So, maybe if these people were actually governing since 2009 instead of trying to find more shoes to dampen, we would have had the public option to our national health care system in the form of expanded Medicare for everyone. You know, like 60-plus percent of the people wanted in the first place.
I blame both parties for not seeing to their governing duties while sucking up to lobbyists instead of their constituents.
Meanwhile, developing world events are beginning to have an effect on our unqualified and disrespectful, fear-mongering president of today. He gave a speech to his nationalist pals in Poland the other day that criticized our own intelligence communities and our media. As a real patriot and someone who has sworn the oath and worn the uniform, I am appalled that he would call out any of our agencies or constitutionally-protected estates for public flaying. How dare he do that?! It’s bad enough that other countries are parading vulgar floats and statues in their streets depicting Trump as the destroyer of democracy without him confirming that for all the world to see, and justifying their ridicule.
When I lived in San Diego, CA, I often went to the tip of Point Loma where the Cabrillo National Monument is and the view is spectacular beyond words. But to get there, one has to drive past the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery where so many of our military veterans are buried and honored for their sacrifice. It was always a moving moment for me.
Today, I wonder how those heroes would feel watching and listening to this pathetic excuse for a president take us apart to anyone and everyone who will listen. How would they feel about Trump being ever-so cozy with the Russian dictator who actually ordered the hacking of our elections systems? How would they feel about an open and obvious act of treason by instantly declassifying information and passing it on to Russian diplomats while telling them that he fired the FBI director – calling him a “nut job” – to relieve pressure of the collusion investigation? Why would any rational national leader do that?
If these behaviors from those we “elect” to govern us continue, we may not have a nation worth governing, and instead of lauding ourselves as being a free democracy, we will be known as a society that failed to heed the warnings of history and allowed ourselves to become an oligarchical dictatorship run by the super-rich plutocrats who are trying to buy the government and keep it as their employee.
In my two most recent books, Killing the Dream: America’s Flirtation With Third-World Status and Racing to the Brink: The End Game for Race and Capitalism [both available on Amazon.com and The Kindle Store], I tried to point out how this happened and what the motives for this slow-motion coup really are.
Too many super rich people have influenced too many rich guy wannabes to alter their own reality such that they think anything progressive or liberal is Satanic and evil. They forgot that Keynesian economics brought forth by Franklin Roosevelt’s administrations are what saved capitalism from itself.
Too few of us remember or understand that bit of history and the fact that the Republican Party has been fighting progress for working classes almost since Lincoln was killed. They are the party of the Robber Barons, the Koch Brothers and a host of other moguls who have tried to re-invent the Middle Ages society of lords and serfs.
The final question to all of you who might even get out to vote and take your neighbor to the polls is: “Do you want to have the boot of institutionalized poverty and mediocrity on your neck, or do you want to have at least the opportunity to achieve something that approaches yours and your children’s potential as a quality citizen?”
– Vern Turner lives in Marble Falls, TX and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer. His latest book, Racing to the Brink: The End Game for Race and Capitalism, is available through Amazon.com.