We will immediately repeal and replace ObamaCare – and nobody can do that like me. We will save $’s and have much better healthcare!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 9, 2016
We’re gonna be seeing a lot of this over the next four years.
Tonight’s news from the U.S. House of Representatives is a victory for anyone with a heart – which, perhaps surprisingly to many progressives, appears to include Republicans. After spending seven years screeching about how terrible Obamacare is, and Trump having spent over a year and a half screeching about how terrible Obamacare is and how great his Day #1 replacement is, they massively fucked up their big opportunity to actually get rid of it.
Even with control over all three branches of government – the presidency, the Senate and the House (where they have a majority of 44, and where the vote was to be held) – the Republicans couldn’t pass their first signature piece of legislation in a decade.
Trump, the self-proclaimed greatest deal-maker in the history of deals, couldn’t make the deal.
I’m currently watching BBC News, who have just shown a montage of clips from the campaign trail of Trump proclaiming how quickly he’s gonna repeal and replace Obamacare. About how he’s a winner. What a humiliation.
As a liberal, it makes me feel pretty good to watch this far-right car crash of an administration sputter and fail again and again. It hasn’t even been 100 days, and what have they actually achieved? Record-low unpopularity ratings and numerous setbacks. Today is a good reminder that, even when monsters control the government (which the Republicans are, in comparison to our Conservative Party), in reality they don’t have absolute control.
I quite clearly don’t live in America, but my lack of concrete connection to the country doesn’t there isn’t a connection. Many of my favourite movies are made by Americans. Over the years, I’ve made many American friends. My early career as an online journalist only happened because of American writers and websites. I have a great interest in the country’s history and culture. I find it both intoxicating and fascinating.
But I’m also a cosmopolitan. I’ve never seen the big deal about national borders or immigration – I am a boring old “citizen of the world,” because of that aforementioned lack of care, but also because I’m a humanist (i.e. we’re all human at the end of the day so division over nationality is arbitrary) and because I recognise that what happens in one part of the world has a knock-on effect to other parts. If this healthcare bill succeeded, then it’s a stamp of validation for similarly-minded politicians to move full steam ahead with legislation that kills people.
At the same time, we should proceed with caution. We live in volatile, unpredictable times, with a president whose defining feature is being unconventional – and I feel that this loss actually plays into his hands. Because of those big majorities, the failure to pass this bill is down to Republicans themselves, many of whom did not back this bill. For moderates, it was too right-wing. For the far-right, it was too moderate. Their inability to pass the bill shows a lack of actual governing ability, and Trump – whose campaign was based around being the outsider, the populist against the establishment (including Republicans) – can say, “well, I tried, but the establishment struck back.” As a man who is psychologically incapable of perceiving himself to be a loser, he will inevitably spin this into another situation where he and “the people” are robbed by the evil elite. Perhaps he even wanted the bill to fail, so that he could create this narrative, thus pressuring those Republicans who intended to vote against the bill into supporting The American Health Care Act Vol.2, or risk incurring the wrath of the people. It’s what he did when the Muslim Ban failed twice. Everyone’s corrupt except him, kinda thing.
Of course, while Trumpy will inevitably pursue this narrative, it’s also inevitable that his supporters will grow frustrated at the lack of promised change. There will – hopefully – come a point where they become tired of their leader’s excuses, and realise that the problem might not actually be that corrupt establishment they so railed against, but rather, him.