A tie decorated with elephant mascots at the Republican National Convention (RNC) in Tampa, Fla.
Photo by Daniel Acker/Bloomberg/Getty

Falling short of the bare minimum standards for public service

Slate ran an interesting headline with Jamelle Bouie’s piece on the American Health Care Act yesterday, describing the House Republicans’ “passage of Trumpcare” as “one of the most callous things the party has ever done.”

In terms of scope and scale, that’s hardly an outrageous assessment. The bare minimum standard for public service – literally, the very least a public official can do in the United States – is not hurting Americans on purpose. Indeed, it probably seems like common sense: those who serve the public, especially those in elected office, should at least try to shield the public from unnecessary and easily avoidable harm.

By passing the GOP’s obscene health care bill yesterday, Republicans fell short of his basic standard.

If Donald Trump were to sign this legislation into law – a step the president said he’s eager, if not desperate, to do – tens of millions of Americans would suffer. Some might even die. With this in mind, characterizing this as “one of the most callous things the party has ever done” seems quite fair.

But this also got me thinking about politics on a global scale. Isn’t this one of the most callous things we’ve seen from any major party in any advanced democracy in recent memory?

I’ve long been fascinated by the degree to which America’s current Republican Party is an international outlier. Our GOP, for example, is the only major party in any advanced democracy on the planet to reject the science of climate change. It’s the only major party that believes citizens should have largely unfettered access to firearms. It’s the only major party to oppose the international nuclear agreement with Iran.

And it’s the only major party in any advanced democracy on earth to oppose health care as a core benefit of citizenship.

The idea of a major party in a modern democracy opposing their constituents’ access to medical care is bizarre. The idea of that same party voting to take access to medical care away from millions of citizens who already enjoy such a benefit is madness.

And yet, there were 217 House Republicans voting yesterday to take health coverage away from at least 24 million Americans, while punishing many more. This wasn’t an accident: GOP lawmakers were told of the likely consequences of their actions, they chose to pass the bill anyway, and then they went to the White House for a celebration, where they shared a hearty laugh with the president about their handiwork.

We would not witness such a development in any other democracy in the world. Republicans have become a party without an international parallel.

God bless America.