Friday, November 18, 2016


When it comes to politics, I tend to be grouped in under the term "Independent" (mainly because when I take those political alignment tests, I always wind up out in the wilderness, fairly distant from Republicans, Democrats, Greens and Libertarians alike), but a more honest label is that of Not-Republican. Not that I'm a member of, or particularly drawn to, any other party, but Republicans tend to push me away, regardless of how much I might agree with the way they view certain topics. And this exchange, which I heard on NPR this morning, explains why:

Steve Inskeep: How awkward is your situation with Obamacare because, of course, Republicans have pledged to repeal it, but you need to replace it with something to avoid a disaster for millions of people who are benefiting from it at the moment? How close are Republicans to agreeing on a replacement?

Senator John Thune, R, SD: Well, I mean, that's the hard part. You know, we had a vote in 2015 to repeal Obamacare. Now, we have a president that we think will sign it. And so the question then becomes, what is that transition to something new and hopefully something much better? The one thing we want to do is make sure that nobody is harmed.
Now, to be sure, I don't begrudge Congressional Republicans their desire, or their efforts, to repeal, defund, delay or otherwise derail the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. I'm not stupid and I'm not an idealist. If it's not your party's idea, it's bad, and if you can't find a way to steal the credit, it must be sabotaged. It's the way partisanship works. I get it. But I do begrudge the Republicans not having come up with a plan by now. It's been six years since the bill was passed, and five since the Republicans started looking for ways to torpedo it. If "Repeal and Replace" has been on their minds this whole time, one would think that they could have at least a reasonably detailed outline of a plan by now. They've had more than enough time to come up with something new, and if that's possible, definitely much better. Certainly they could have found a Republican doctor, lawyer and insurance company executive and made it worth their while to write something up. Surely they could have siphoned off some of the billions of dollars they've thrown at defense contractors and drone strikes. Even with "just" a million dollars a year, they could have enticed some very bright people to come up with a workable plan for them.

Given the fact that Repeal and Replacement of laws in the United States is almost never a two-step process, I've always had a sneaking suspicion that the replacement for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is going to turn out to be something like the Affordable Patient Care and Protection Act; in other words, something that looks remarkably familiar, but with a couple of strategic changes here and there that will allow Republicans to claim that they've come up with a completely new and different plan that's miles better. The nature of partisanship being what it is, whether or not someone believes that it's manifestly better, substantially worse or simply showing us the same baby again and calling it a sibling, will depend mostly on the partisan leaning of the person in question.

And I guess in the end, that's the part that rankles the most. Not the naked partisanship involved in this whole enterprise, but the unwillingness all around to simply own that partisanship. I, like I said, am generally a Not-Republican. Mainly because there always seems to be some GOP elected official who takes it into their head to do something that just makes no sense to me every time I turn around. Labeling protests "economic terrorism?" Really? I mean, I get it, Ferndale really wanted that coal export terminal, and the people there are really unhappy with what they perceive as effete, hipster, fair-trade-coffee-drinking Seattlites nixing what could have been a decent source of at least a handful of well-paid jobs building the place and running it. But this strikes me as the lowest form of pandering. And so, when someone says that so-and-so is running for this-or-that office as a Republican, I roll my eyes. But, I own that. I will tell anyone who asks that I tend to think of Republicans as not worth my time, and their ideas as generally suspect until proven otherwise. That's my bias, and I'm sticking to it, because it works for me.

And that's a rarer stance than it seems that it should be. Because we all have our biases. The political system that we have right now would fall apart of people didn't vote their biases more often than not. So why not just lay our cards on the table, and quit pretending?

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