The Democrats Won’t Save You

House Republicans passed the American Health Care Act Thursday, an unabashedly sadistic piece of legislation that provides for the indiscriminate decimation of the country’s most vulnerable. The bill not only eliminates all current protections for those with pre-existing conditions, but expands the disqualifying criteria to include domestic violence, sexual assault, postpartum depression, and C-sections. In fact, nothing would stop insurance companies from denying coverage for life-saving gynecological services and mammograms, or mental health care.

Gone would be the Affordable Care Act’s provision preventing employer plans from placing annual limits on the amount of care they will cover, such as prescription drugs, hospitalization, lab tests, and newborn care. As a result of drastic reductions to Medicaid, school services for disabled children could be cut. Planned Parenthood would be defunded. The sick and old would be charged more, the rich would receive a tax cut in hundreds of billions.

But at least House Republicans comported themselves with an air of solemnity while carrying out their crypto-eugenics.

Class warfare like this—and it is warfare, considering the thousands who will drop dead as a result of Ryan’s kegside fantasies—ought to make cake of the 2020 midterms for the Democrats. Here’s a chance to use the crueler iteration of an already unpopular bill to begin pushing back forcefully in the opposite direction, to establish a bold political vision: single-payer health care.

Instead, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi spent Thursday beating back renewed calls for “Medicare for All,” a proposal that’s only grown more popular since it polled at 58-percent approval last year.

“I was carrying single payer signs probably around before you born, so I understand that aspiration,” Pelosi said. “The comfort level with a broader base of the American people is not there yet [for single payer].”

The timidity borne of this sort of blind devotion to incrementalism will prevent the Democrats from ever becoming agents of meaningful change. In their minds, their noble deference to the Republicans — little more than civility for civility’s sake — will be rewarded at a later date. But scarcely any thought is given to what these future considerations might look like. It’s as if these people earnestly believe that, if presented with even a vaguely progressive proposal, the GOP will check their ledger, see a tally of all the times Dems’ acted in the interest of bipartisanship, and say, “Gee, I suppose we owe them this one.”

What is the argument, then, for anything less than single payer, if milquetoast bipartisanship offers a near-zero chance of success?

The Republicans built a political vision, albeit a nightmarish one, and amassed the power necessary to bring it to fruition. In condemning millions of Americans to sickness, poverty, and death, the GOP never once paused to consider anyone’s “comfort level,” or whether the Democrats would smile upon their future efforts. In establishing a more equitable system that guarantees affordable, accessible health care to all, why must Democrats cede an inch to these ghouls?

To Pelosi and the rest of the party satraps, the human toll of their glaring lack of backbone is obscured by the cold calculus of the Beltway mindset. To them, the number of people who will die of ovarian cancer because they were denied coverage for a routine checkup, or those with genetic disorders like cystic fibrosis who will receive a death sentence when their life-preserving treatments are deemed too pricey by some distant insurer, is wholly irrelevant. All that matters is how many among the living will remember how mean and nasty the Republicans were, and vote Democrat. Why else would these congenital goobers sing when millions of Americans face a terrifying future?

Thursday proved that the key lesson of Clinton’s failure — that offering no substantive policy beyond “Well, at least we’re not them” — remains completely lost on the Democratic Party, and it cannot be trusted to smarten up anytime soon.

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