It has been the dream of the Progressives for over a hundred years to socialize medicine. In my soon to be published book, The ObamaCare Train Wreck, I trace the history of the Progressive movement to change our system of health care in order to increase government control.
This Progressive movement has carried the banner of both political parties, beginning with Republican President Theodore Roosevelt but since then adopting Democratic Party leaders such as President Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Lyndon B. Johnson. Today, it is President Barack Obama who has finally brought the Progressives their long-sought goal. It is for this reason they fought so hard to pass the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) despite the clear indication that a majority of the American people did not support it. Through a series of political back room maneuvers and Congressional slick tricks, they managed to pass the bill without a single Republican vote.
Why would they insist upon passing legislation that did not have the backing of a majority of the American people? The answer to this question can be found in a book called The Ruling Class by Angelo Codevilla. He defines our country into two groups; not by political parties but by their self-image and attitudes defined by their educational biases and socioeconomic upbringing.
The first of these is called the Ruling Class. This group believes that only those in their “elite” status are qualified to govern the country. Although many are wealthy, it is not their wealth that gives them “ruling class status”. Rather it is their educational credentials and their connections to the government. While they attended the best schools, it is not their academic performances that distinguish them. In fact, many were admitted to these schools not on the basis of their grades but on the basis of their social pedigree. What matters most in Codevilla’s words is “their commitment to fit in.”
Those in the Ruling Class believe it is their duty to make decisions “for the good of the country” that ordinary citizens are incapable of making. This condescending attitude is the hallmark of their class. It justifies their determination to decide what light bulbs we put in our lamps, what food we put on our tables, what toilets we allow in our homes, and what fuel we put in our cars.
Ruling Class members do not believe that “all men are created equal”. They believe the obvious differences in the talents and abilities of people justify their presumption that “they know what’s best for the country”. They do not believe in a higher power and in general mock those who do. For this reason they are often known as “secular progressives”. President Barack Obama demonstrated this dismissiveness when he was caught on tape describing his opponents’ “clinging to God and guns” as a characteristic of inferior Americans. To justify himself he said he was only pointing out “what everybody knows is true”.
The other group is called the Country Class. This heterogeneous group represents most Americans who believe that the Declaration of Independence got it right; that “all men are created equal” means everyone should have equal protections under the law and equal opportunity to pursue the American dream. They believe they can make their own choices on light bulbs, toilets, food, and fuel to put in their cars; not to mention the amount of water that flows out of their shower nozzle. Most believe in a higher power and don’t want the government to interfere with their religious liberty that was paid for with the blood of our forefathers. This group represents the large majority of Americans.
The Ruling Class is dismissive of the opinions of the Country Class because they believe in their hearts they are doing a noble thing; determining the future of our country. This explains why the Obama administration dismissed the advice of governors and healthcare professionals in drafting the Affordable Care Act and chose instead to listen to academics and others of their own class. In so doing they have created a monster that not only will ruin the health care system in this country but will expose the weaknesses of their own ideology.
In his campaign rhetoric of 2008, Barack Obama referred to himself and his followers, as “we are the ones we’ve been waiting for”. But since those heady days of Obama’s rise to power, reality has taken a different course. Although he was able to pass his signature health care legislation, the country’s response has been less than enthusiastic. In fact, it has been down right negative. Not once since the passage of the ACA has there been a national poll that showed a majority of Americans favored the new law.
In his book The Revolt Against the Masses, author Fred Siegel writes of the weaknesses of those who would presume to be best qualified to lead us. Much like Codevilla, he exposes the arrogance of the Ruling Class. Noemie Emery of The Weekly Standard writes that Siegel noted, “They had too much belief in the brilliance of experts, they were completely dismissive of public opinion, and they had a contempt for the great middle class.” This adroitly describes those who drafted ObamaCare.
Emery describes the writing of the bill with a familiar metaphor:
“If a camel is a horse designed by a committee, this camel was a 2,801-page non-bestseller filled with labyrinthine riddles that nobody seemed to know how to solve. To insure approximately 18 million out of 300-plus million Americans (they confessed the plan would still leave 20 million uninsured), they proposed to spend trillions on a reengineering of the entire system that would in time cause 80 to 100 million of the currently insured to lose and to seek new insurance.”
Previous government entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare enjoyed bipartisan support. For this reason they remain popular and have become “the third rail” of politics; too dangerous to touch. But ObamaCare was passed without a single Republican vote and remains unpopular by a significant majority. When common sense would have led most people to compromise their plans to gain support, the Obama administration, true to their “Ruling Class” status, doubled-down on their rhetoric and pushed through the unpopular legislation.
But the dream that took a hundred years to fulfill is rapidly becoming a nightmare they wish would go away. Democrats are in denial when they say they are proud of ObamaCare and expect to campaign on its benefits. Democratic leadership like House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi or Democratic Party Chairman Debbie Wasserman Schultz may push back when Republicans suggest they have a great campaign issue in ObamaCare, but don’t expect those Democrats running for re-election this November to carry the same message as their leaders to the voters. Emery writes that ObamaCare has already terminated the careers of almost 70 national Democrats, given the Republicans control of 26 states, and brought in a new crew of GOP leaders inspired to fight this new legislation. It has drained the Obama administration of the political momentum to advance the rest of his liberal agenda leaving him to resort to finding ways, many of them illegal, to go around Congress to accomplish his goals.
Even the liberal media is beginning to see the reality of this nightmare. The New Republic admitted the launch of ObamaCare was “a fiasco that could haunt progressives for years to come.” They continued, “Liberalism has spent the better part of the past century attempting to prove that it could competently and responsibly extend the state into new reaches of American life. With the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, the administration has badly injured that cause.”
The failures of ObamaCare are not just the failures of President Obama and his administration. They are the failures of the Ruling Class in general. They are the failures of all those who believe that only the elite with proper credentials and social pedigree are qualified to lead this country. Arguably the greatest president of the last fifty years, Ronald Reagan, was not a member of the Ruling Class. He was never respected by the intellectual elite and never given credit for his superior grasp of the world and its complexities. Yet he was the one whose tough foreign policy with the Soviet Union and strong national defense budget led to victory in the Cold War. His “supply-side economics” proved the Keynesians wrong and led to a great economic recovery. Now every Republican, and even some liberals like Obama, have tried to portray themselves in the image of Reagan.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Jonathan Chait, writing in The New Republic, founded by liberal progressive icon Herbert Croly, bragged on the Affordable Care Act when it was first passed. He opined:
“Historians will see this health care bill as a masterfully crafted piece of legislation. The new law untangles the dysfunctionalities of the individual insurance market while fulfilling the political imperative of leaving the employer-provided system in place. . . They put into place numerous reforms to force efficiency into a wasteful system. They found hundreds of billions of dollars in payment off-sets, a monumental task in itself. And they will bring economic and financial security to tens of millions of Americans who would otherwise risk seeing their lives torn apart.”
Such great expectations –so little achievement. It’s amazing how ideology can blind one to reality. But don’t expect progressives to give up their dream without a fight. A hundred years is a long time to wait.