America has decided to implement ObamaCare. Are you with your country or against it?
In America, we argue about everything. Just because the Leader proposes something, we don’t all have to get in line behind it.
We argue about whether to go to war in places like Syria, Libya, or Iraq. We argue about taxes. We argue about how much money our government should spend and what it should be spent on. We argue about which drugs and medical procedures should be legal.
We argue; it’s what we do. If you didn’t argue for your beliefs, if you just knuckled under as soon as the Powers That Be made their will known, you wouldn’t be a real American.
But we also come to decisions. We have a Congress that is empowered to pass laws. We have a president who is obliged to either veto those laws or enforce them. We have courts you can appeal to if you think those laws exceed the powers the Constitution delegates to the federal government.
In short, there are lots and lots of ways you can register your objection to a proposed public policy. Our Constitution creates many pressure points where the flow of an idea into law can be blocked.
But we do eventually make decisions.
Even after a decision is made, you can still argue that it was wrong. You can argue that we shouldn’t have invaded Iraq. You can argue that we shouldn’t have bailed out General Motors or Bank of America. You can argue that the CIA shouldn’t be launching drone attacks into countries we aren’t at war with or that the NSA shouldn’t be tracking your cell phone.
That’s not just a technicality of freedom of speech. You can make those arguments as a patriotic American, because the country has a process for reversing course. If you can convince enough people agree with you, maybe the power of public opinion will change the minds of our office-holders. And if not, elections can turn those offices over to new office-holders who can make new policies and pass new laws.
That’s not working against America, it’s part of how America works.
But there’s a line between legitimate partisanship and lack of patriotism, and this is where it runs: After a decision is made, after it is upheld as constitutional, after America has decided to do something, you don’t root for your country to fail — and you certainly don’t take action to make your country fail.
Democrats respected that line when a Republican administration did something we thought was wrong: invading Iraq. We never stopped arguing against it. We never stopped trying to elect people who would get us out Iraq. And eventually we succeeded. The fighting in Iraq continues, but American troops are out of it.
You know what we didn’t do? We didn’t try to sabotage the war effort. Democratic leaders weren’t out there publicly rooting for failure. We didn’t aid the Iraqi resistance or gloat over defeats. And we certainly didn’t cheer when American troops came home in body bags. If a stray voice on a blog or in a public forum started rooting for defeat or gloating over American corpses, we jumped all over him. No external force had to police us on that; we policed ourselves.
We were Americans. We opposed what our government was doing in Iraq, but we stayed patriotic.
But on ObamaCare, Republicans have crossed that line between patriotic and unpatriotic. Let’s review a few of the ways.
McConnell and the NFL. In June, Republican Senate Leaders Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn sent a letter to the National Football League, warning it not to cooperate in efforts to publicize the law and tell the public how to get the benefits it offers. (They were successful; the NFL did not cooperate.)
This is unprecedented. Private organizations, including sports leagues, frequently take part in public information programs. When Massachusetts passed RomneyCare, the Boston Red Sox helped publicize it. Private companies like CVS, Shaw’s supermarkets, and H&R Block pitched in. This wasn’t controversial, because it wasn’t taking a position on a proposal, it was educating the public about the law.
The Bush administration organized a similar public-information campaign to introduce the Medicare prescription drug benefit. Democrats had opposed the bill in Congress (because it was written to benefit drug companies more than seniors), and we objected to the tactics used to pass the bill. But Democrats did not interfere with educating the public about how to get the new law’s benefits.
McConnell’s logic is revealing. The NFL should refuse to participate because ObamaCare “is one of the most divisive and polarizing political issues of the day.” Actually, no, it had been a political issue, but it was now a law. McConnell admitted as much, but discounted that fact because “this law was enacted … on a strictly partisan basis”. In other words, the constitutional process is insufficient as long as Republicans disapprove.
The Koch Brothers’ creepy Uncle Sam. The Koch brothers have funneled millions of dollars into ads that aim to sabotage ObamaCare by getting young people not to sign up. Not only are these ads misleading — amounting to an anti-public-education campaign against the law — they also turn a symbol of America, Uncle Sam, into something sinister and threatening.
This is well within the Kochs’ legal freedom of speech — just as it would have been within the freedom of speech of anti–Iraq-War billionaires to run creepy and misleading ads telling young Americans not to sign up for the military. (No such ads ran.) But it is similarly unpatriotic.
The fake Cover California web site. Republicans around the country crowed over the problems of the HealthCare.gov web site. Crowing over your country’s failures is unseemly enough, but California Republicans took it one step further: They set up a fake web site to actively confuse Californians looking for health insurance.
California is one of the states that set up its own ObamaCare exchange with its own web site, Covered California. The state web site was working much better than the national one, so naturally something had to be done to monkey-wrench it. Republicans put up their own fake site, Covering Health Care California, where you can’t sign up for health insurance, but you can access anti-ObamaCare propaganda and misinformation. Republican state representatives then distributed a mailer publicizing the bogus web site.
This is not normal. You want to argue that ObamaCare is a mistake and should be repealed? Fine. You want to run on a repeal platform? Fine.
But America has made a decision to do something about its 50 million uninsured. That decision, made through our constitutional process, is to implement ObamaCare. When you take action to screw that implementation up, you are working against your country.
It’s that simple.