House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) makes a case for the GOP’s long-awaited plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act on March in the District. (J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press)

Two weeks ago, the Commonwealth Institute published an outline detailing how many Virginians would be harmed by the American Health Care Act, the replacement offered by House Republicans for the Affordable Care Act.

The impact is certainly nothing to take lightly: 327,000 Virginians could face an erosion in health-insurance coverage; 319,068 may get a smaller tax credit to offset the price of insurance; and 238,000 could pay higher out-of-pocket health-care expenses by 2020. In total, the number of uninsured Virginians is expected to increase by 31 percent following the repeal of the individual and employer mandates and the insurance tax credits.

There is a prodigious moral deficiency in treating the absence of Obamacare’s protections as an unjust loss, notwithstanding Rep. Joe Kennedy III’s hammy remarks to the contrary. Asserting rightful authority over another’s property and wealth and enforcing that alleged right with the government’s loaded gun is no different from theft. Indeed, God commands his followers to care for the poor, but He also commands us not to steal (He certainly does not charge the administrative state or the Democratic Party with enforcing his commands). Virtuousness, by its very definition, cannot be compelled.

It is doubtful the left will ever see it this way, but fortunately, there is another lesson leftists will have no choice but to stomach this time, one that painfully illustrates the prudence in decentralizing power and prioritizing self-sustainment over governmental dependence.

Pick your quote: “The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield, and government to gain ground.” “A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have.” “Government giveth and taketh away.” All emphasize the wise lesson that putting all of one’s eggs into one basket is generally not a good idea — especially when that basket is Congress.

Consider the original promise of the Affordable Care Act: to use the power of government to ensure all Americans had access to affordable health care. The operative (and oft-overlooked) phrase is the “power of government.” Government is whimsical; despite its deliberative nature, it can and frequently does change the laws of the United States.

Accordingly, trusting a volatile institution such as Congress with something as sensitive as health care makes no sense. Riddled with problems from the get-go, Obamacare’s life expectancy and reliability should have been immediately in doubt for anyone paying attention. There’s a reason Virginia Republicans never fell for the Medicaid expansion that was promised to be nearly paid for by the federal government.

That said, those who voted for “hope” and “change” in 2008 can be forgiven for thinking Obamacare would serve their best interests. Less deserving of forgiveness are those who knew better; those who held public office and gleefully tethered their constituencies to an unstable law; those who declared “Obamacare is here to stay” while knowing full-well the law faced substantial challenges. Democrats gambled that their law would work and they would always have the political influence to protect it. They were wrong, and now 24 million people get to realize first-hand the double-edged sword of government dependency.

Of course, there are those who blame Republicans, believing that Obamacare would have endured had Republicans not opposed it so fiercely. Democrats have been content to blame others simply for daring to disagree. “Our agenda works as long as no one opposes us” is no different from saying “the more absolute, unconstrained power, the better.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) was right: Dismantling Obamacare is an act of mercy. The average American can now finally take control of his own health-care, unbeholden to the shifting political winds of Congress.

Hanging the nation’s health care security on the mere hope that Congress will never change its mind has now proved to be a colossal mistake. For this, people at risk of losing their coverage should blame Democrats, because even if it is Republicans pulling the trigger, it was Democrats who put Americans at the barrel’s end in the first place.