Not longer after the election, I had a discussion with someone very close to me who happens to be very apolitical. He wasn’t worried about the Trump presidency. After all, we had survived the Bush presidency. Trump couldn’t be that bad. That hurt a little to hear. Not because I found it insulting, just because I realized that his was a very easy viewpoint to take, and one that is far more dangerous than he, or anyone else who holds it, realizes.
Yes, we survived the Bush presidency. But many didn’t. Comparing the Bush presidency to a hypothetical Gore presidency and a few differences will emerge. I don’t know what the details would have been. I don’t know if we would have gotten healthcare reform or immigration reform. I don’t know if we would have been attacked on September 11th. I do know we would not have gone into Iraq. That was such an unmitigated disaster of a decision that led to many, many of the problems we are suffering from right now. I am convinced the a hypothetical president Gore would never have decided to go into Iraq, not only because it was a bad idea, but also because it was such a random one. Iraq had nothing to do with the terrorist attacks. Only people with an already pre-existing desire to attack Iraq would have gone in. And there weren’t that many people with such a desire.
Because we went into Iraq we lost a part of a generation. They came back with physical or mental injuries preventing them from living full, productive lives. Or they didn’t come back at all. And without a working Iraqi government we opened the door for groups like ISIS, which spent years destabilizing not just the middle east but the whole world. We will be dealing with the fallout of the Iraq War for generations. We’re witnessing something like that happen with healthcare now.
Now that the House of Representatives has passed their version of Trumpcare, the Senate has to get to work. The Senate has a reputation of being sober and careful. They wouldn’t pass a law that would doom tens of millions to shoddy healthcare and medical bills pushing them into bankruptcy, right? Right? Of course they will. The decision they face has no good options.
- Pass a law that strengthens Obamacare. They can’t do that, because they’ve been campaigning on repealing it for years.
- Pass a law that closely resembles the House’s bill. They can’t do that because it will literally kill their constituents.
- Pass a law that’s completely different than either Obamacare or the House bill. They can’t do that because Obamacare is the conservative version of healthcare reform. There aren’t any other laws that would satisfy the most conservative members of the republican party.
It isn’t so much that the Senate will save healthcare. It’s that they can’t. There are no good options, so what we will see is individual senators trying to figure out what bill is the most likely to not get them voted out of office. Given that they know that their elections are largely decided by the most extreme versions of republican voters, they will cater to them.
This would not have happened with a hypothetical President Clinton. Sure, even if there were the same majorities in the House and Senate, they may pass the same destructive bills. But we wouldn’t be too worried about them because there was no question that she would veto the bill. People will die as the result of President Trump. Our only hope is that the republican party is too incompetent to actually get anything done. We shall see.