The Republican effort to prevent the conception of Obamacare, to terminate the pregnancy of Obamacare, to strangle the Obamacare baby in its crib, to abuse the Obamacare toddler as it grew, and now to starve and bully the Obamacare child into running away or to death, has obscured the larger dynamic. And that dynamic is that health care as a citizen right has taken root in the United States.
This is exactly what the GOP feared, of course, and why its rhetoric and actions have been so frantic and unceasing. And at times it looked as though Republicans were winning the argument, until, of course, their bluff about having a better alternative got called. They had plans all right, but none of them bore any resemblance to their promises of providing more care for less money. And their very promise of more care was cementing former President Barack Obama’s victory.
The real debate on health care was never in the details of the Obama plan. His goal was to extend coverage, as far as possible, in the direction and for the purpose of establishing health care as an American expectation. In this, he is winning — and has probably won.
This is why the single-payer option is suddenly looking like a political winner. And why some are saying that Democrats are all now socialists. But the reality is that when the GOP started making promises of more and better care, without delivering anything, it set up single-payer to eventually succeed. If Republicans’ alternative to the complicated system of Obamacare is complication without care, the appeal of single-payer becomes unmistakable: care without the complication. It’s the simplest, cheapest way that the rest of the developed world has already discovered to cover health-care costs.
So now the GOP is caught in a trap. Republicans can either work to fix and extend Obamacare, which they as yet show no signs of doing, or let it fail and demolish coverage that people want and now expect — leaving single-payer as the clear, understandable, popular alternative.
But if it comes to pass, this won’t really be Obama’s win. It’ll be ours.