The American Health Care Act (AHCA) rose from its grave on Thursday, shambling through the House of Representatives on a party line vote. It now awaits for action from the Senate, where the Republicans have a much slimmer majority for anything like it to be passed. While the Republican Party continues to claim it is a “repeal and replace” of ObamaCare, it is nothing of the sort. There’s a word for the American Health Care Act: “reform“, and “reform” is neither a “repeal” nor a “replace“.
Just six short years ago, American conservatives fought and failed (by betrayal) to end ObamaCare through constitutional challenges. In the intervening years, Republicans in the House and Senate made numerous largely empty attempts to repeal or at least defund ObamaCare. All of those attempts came up short. Now, in control of both the House and Senate, and, finally, the White House, the GOP snatches defeat from the jaws of victory and gives us what is clearly a reform, while looking us right in the eye and saying “repeal… and replace“.
A fair part of the Republican voters are in line supporting the AHCA, though support for it remains weak overall, even within the GOP itself. Amazingly, many of these people supporting the AHCA will enthusiastically attack socialism on social media, unloading on anyone they perceive as “un-American“. And yet they are still supporting a bill that empowers the government to interfere in the private contracts of individuals (the very definition of collectivist socialism).
How did we come to this?
“A man who stands for nothing will fall for anything.“
We live in an age of polarization, where what someone believes to be true has more to do with their political identity as their actual experience. For example, take two totally different individuals: Rush Limbaugh and Rachel Maddow. Both are simultaneously perceived as extremely credible and totally dishonest depending solely on which side of the political aisle the listener sits. Even when either presents an incontrovertible fact, skepticism is the first (and often only) response from politically hostile listeners.
On top of this rampant “echo chamber” factionalism, we have become accustomed to the ceaseless drumbeat of the 24-hour news cycle. Many Americans, listening only to their approved media source, have come to believe that their political identity derives from their political policy positions. You have people who believe being on the “Left” simply means they must support ObamaCare, expansive tax policy, and welfare programs. You have people who believe being on the “Right” simply means they must support the AHCA, lower taxes, and cutting spending. And you have people who believe they are in the “Center“, because they believe in some combination of these things.
To many, being “Left“, “Right“, or “Center” has everything to do with political positions, and thus their political positions somehow inform their place on the ideological pole. Piece by piece, point by point, Americans cobble their political opinions together, based on little more than their feelings, their existing prejudices, and who they get their information from and think this is “ideology“, or, worse, they reject ideology altogether as bad. They could not be more mistaken, on either count.
“For I do not do the good I want to do,
but the evil I do not want to do—
this I keep on doing.”
-Paul the Apostle, Romans 7:19-
Our political positions do not inform our ideology; our ideology informs our political positions. Without ideology, we can only contradict the objectives of our political aims, by infringing on moral precepts in one hand that we claim to be vehemently protecting with the another. It’s how these people who viciously attack the evils of socialism in one breath will in turn viciously defend government policy that interferes in wages, work regulations, retirement insurance, and health insurance with their very next breath.
Ideology is a clear, coherent, vision by which we can know what is good and what is not. For this reason, why you believe what you do is often more important than what you believe. If the Culture War is a conflict of ideologies, anyone who rejects ideology is engaging in this battle totally unarmed. So the only real question is which ideology will you arm yourself with today?
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