We conservatives can be forgiven for enjoying some amusement in the spectacle of Obamacare’s collapse, but overall the failure of Obama’s signature policy is cause for deep concern. Not because, as David Brooks suggests, because Americans have lost faith in government. (In most ways, that skepticism is something to celebrate.)
Rather, what is most troubling is the failure of the opposition to stop Obamacare from passing at all.
Yes, when it passed in 2010, Republicans were united against it in both the House and the Senate. But that unity did not extend to the state level, where several governors, including some elected with strong support from the Tea Party, and several supposed presidential contenders in 2016, accepted Obamacare’s expanded Medicaid funding, undermining opposition to the law and adding millions (potentially) to state dependence.
The media did not do their job in exposing the flaws of the law before it passed. In fact, as John Nolte and Byron York have pointed out, the mainstream media did everything it could to cover up the truth.
Journalists who knew that Americans would not be able to keep their individual insurance policies, as the president had promised, kept silent. They are just as silent now about how millions will lose employer-based insurance next year.
Most infamously of all, the Supreme Court failed to strike down the law in its entirety, as it quite obviously should have done. Chief Justice John Roberts cast aside his previous conservative credentials to rewrite the statute from the bench, describing the individual mandate as a tax when it was anything but, and would likley not have passed had the Democrats described it as such. (Even President Obama had said that it was not a tax.)
So all the checks and balances that were supposed to protect the American people from abuses of power like Obamacare failed.
And worse yet, the opposition party itself failed, losing the chance in 2012 to capture the White House and the Senate. Obama and his supporters consider that victory an acclimation of support for Obamacare, even though Mitt Romney barely campaigned on the issue and could hardly have done so if he tried.
When Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) led a congressional effort to defund Obamacare, and the government shut down when Democrats (predictably) resisted, he was pilloried both by the mainstream media and by members of his own party. Flawed though his effort was, it would not have been necessary had the Republican Party done more to fight the law. (Amazingly, the GOP website actually lists repealing Obamacare as a fulfilled pledge.)
It is no surprise to conservatives that Obamacare is a disaster. We did not hope for its failure, as Democrats allege. Many of us simply knew Obamacare was unlikely to deliver many of its promised benefits, while its costs would be widespread and severe.
Yet by 2013, the prevailing wisdom in the GOP was to let Obamacare fail on its own, and wait until 2017 to begin to repeal it. That is not a serious strategy for opposition.
So while pundits wring their hands about how our system of government is broken, it is not the government that has failed most: it is the opposition.
Even some on the left once understood that: how, they wondered, could the Iraq War have been allowed to proceed on faulty intelligence? Where were the checks and balances against the rush to act?
Gloating over Obamacare’s failure will not prevent us from repeating past mistakes.