Trumpcare, or the AHCA, is off to a rough start. I’m not going to bother listing all the road bumps it has hit, just check out CNN, or Fox News, or even Breitbart to see all the challenges, from both really conservative republicans who think it doesn’t go far enough, and more moderate ones who think it goes too far. For the record, I believe it will ultimately pass the house in a form pretty close to what it is now, but the Senate is a lot harder to predict. What I’m more curious about is how important is it for Trump himself.
At first, it appears this is critical. Evidence for that is Trump’s full throated endorsement and his attempts to woo republicans into voting for it, despite the fact it accomplishes none of his campaign promises. However, look a little deeper and you begin to see that this may not actually be that big a deal. He has said that this is only phase one, and that phases two and three will include more of his promises. So he has already begun to temper people’s expectations about what this will actually accomplish. And there are reports that he plans to blame the democrats if it doesn’t pass. That, I think, is the real key.
Trump seems to define victory in a rather unusual way. If he doesn’t win, he simply redefines success until he has. In this case, winning would mean getting it passed, but he could also define it to mean that he has made the democrats looks bad. If he does that, then the next big thing he wants to do, say get tax cuts passed, he will be able to say that democrats are acting in bad faith and aren’t working for the good of the American people. He will be able to paint them as a group completely defined by their need to stop his agenda, which is to make America great again.
This is classic Trump. Set up a situation where, even if you lose, you can still paint the other side as bigger losers, and hence still win. In other words, I don’t think he actually cares whether he can get this passed. It’s just one battle in a much larger war.