The Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, is a classic example of feeling good rather than doing good. Progressives feel good about insuring uninsured Americans. That the government would begin to take over another sixth of the American economy; that the Act consists of 2,500 pages (and its regulations already run into the tens of thousands of pages); that this is the first piece of major American social legislation to be passed without one vote from the opposition party; that doctors and hospitals will be paid less; that more doctors will retire or only take private patients; that medical devices needed for Americans' health will be further taxed; that companies will relegate vast numbers of workers to part-time work -- none of this matters. What matters is that progressives feel good about the ACA.
And now, sadly, we have witnessed this most seductive human frailty -- feeling good as opposed to doing good -- within the conservative movement, the movement that prides itself as placing doing good before feeling good.
Republicans and conservatives achieved nothing -- and did themselves substantial harm -- when the House passed legislation that demanded defunding Obamacare as a condition of further funding the government and perhaps even raising the debt ceiling.
I have not read a convincing argument on behalf of these tactics. But I have read that the Republican Party is held in lower esteem than at any time in its history.
And any Republican who dismisses such polls ought to recall that the polls, not wishful-thinking Republicans, were right about Obama winning re-election.
Conservatives who supported the doomed repeal-Obamacare-tactic argue that it -- and Senator Ted Cruz's filibuster -- brought national attention to Obamacare's deficiencies. In reality it only brought attention to the Republican Party's deficiencies.
The primary reason for this tactic was that it made many conservatives feel good -- "we need to stand up for what we believe" (even if we know in advance that it will fail to accomplish the stated goal). Otto von Bismarck, father of the modern welfare state, is credited with saying, "Politics is the art of the possible." His side seems to understand that better than ours.
My fellow conservatives fell into the very human -- and very leftist -- trap of asking what feels good rather than what does good. In politics, the only thing that should feel good is winning.
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