It’s time now to clear the air and, on Thursday, the president reserved some biting criticism for a conservative video ad laced with vulgar deception that encourages young people to break the law by not signing up for health care under the Affordable Care Act.
Although the ad portrays falsehood as fact—given that it’s not the president, but Republicans, who’ve expressed an interest in looking up a woman’s birth canal—this latest effort to defund the Affordable Care Act is actually more pernicious than it seems. That’s because it is recommending that young people not just break the law, but break a critically important social contract.
You see, young people are generally healthy and without the costly onset of chronic disease. But by signing up, their contributions will help subsidize those members of society who are sick and in need of treatment. As the younger generation gets older and is more likely to require medical attention, so they become the recipients of the system. That’s how it’s intended to work.
But instead of this, Republicans want to demolish any kind of social contract. It’s interesting that both the campaign to defund the Affordable Care Act and the vote to slash $40 billion from the food stamp program came together at the same time, because underlying all of this is the notion that self-interest and self-centeredness is preferable to a system which says that we’re all in this together; that if we all contribute to a system of affordable health care, then all of us can benefit.
The Republican opposition to these principles is not just a challenge for the government, it’s also a challenge for the church. Since Jerry Falwell launched his moral majority crusade in 1979, the church was effectively co-opted by Republicans and has often been described as the “GOP at prayer.” But last week, denominations as different and as varied as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the National Association of Evangelicals have all condemned what the Republicans did with the food stamp program.
So now we have a party that claims to be one of devout faith, yet opposes any kind of social contract when it comes to health care, against another, which has been derided as secular and godless yet actually holds the notion of community and civic commitment.
And all of this raises one important question, that the president asked himself on Thursday: “If it was as bad as they said it was going to be, then they could just go ahead and let it happen, and then everybody would hate it so much, and then everybody would vote to repeal it, and that would be the end of it. So what is it that they’re so scared about?”
That’s right, Mr. President—what Republicans are really scared of is the possibility that we might actually prefer to honor an important social contract as opposed to worshiping at the shrine of selfishness.