Many left-liberals are currently celebrating the collapse of the Republicans’ proposed healthcare bill, which would have “repealed and replaced” Obamacare. There is good reason to celebrate, of course: the AHCA would have likely been even more disastrous than the ACA has proved to be. But some pundits seem to think that this, along with the ongoing Russia investigation, will be enough to sink Trump’s presidency. Finally, they say, after months of scandal and diplomatic faux pas, the orange menace will be laid to rest. Reid Kane Kotlas spells out why this isn’t necessarily the case:
Donald Trump did not lose; he got exactly what he wanted. He let the Republican establishment discredit themselves. Repealing Obamacare was not Trump’s issue; it’s been a Tea Party hobbyhorse since the bill first passed in 2010. They couldn’t even repeal it with a solid Republican Congress, which just demonstrates the depth of division within the party. Congressional GOP leadership now look bad in the eyes of their own supporters, which strengthens Trump’s leadership role in the party.
Trump is only in office because he’s been exploiting and exacerbating that division since he first announced his candidacy. Meanwhile, as the ACA gets worse and worse, it just reflects negatively on the Democrats who passed it in the first place. So Trump won. If you don’t get that, you don’t get politics.
All this should be fairly obvious to anyone not caught up in the 24-hour news cycle, with its constant barrage of bullshit reportage. What happened with healthcare is that Trump handed the House Republicans an unexploded grenade with the pin already removed. He let them indecisively juggle it around before blowing themselves up. Now if Trump wants to move in another direction, even a drastically different direction — something like, say, universal single-payer healthcare or medicare for all — he can honestly say to Paul Ryan and the rest of the GOP, “You had your chance.”
Corey Robin, humbled in his political predictions ever since Trump won the election, hoped “that the rage of the GOP would overwhelm its reason.” Trump did him one better: he banked on it, while trolling the Pro-Life Freedom Caucus with midnight ultimata posted on Twitter. In all likelihood, Trump probably wouldn’t mind if the Republicans got mauled in the midterm elections. Especially some of the Tea Party holdovers, because he’d be better able to pass actual healthcare reform and infrastructure spending with Dems manning the legislative branch.
For the moment, however, his only visible internal opposition has been totally undercut. Some have gone so far as to suggest that it’s not even useful to think of Trump and his inner circle as Republicans. Rather, they represent a heterogeneous faction within a party they’re seeking to destroy and recreate. After all, Trump was registered as a Democrat between 2001 and 2008, and stated for the record that he was “very pro-choice” in a live interview from October 1999. His Republican opponents during the primaries weren’t wrong when they accused him of repeatedly praising the Scottish and Canadian models of socialized healthcare.