It won’t be the Russia conspiracy or the “Deep State.” It won’t be Olbermann, Maddow, and “The Resistance.” It won’t even be the bugbear of “racism.” No, the most likely thing that will bring down the presidency of Donald J. Trump is healthcare. Yes, healthcare. And the people to blame will be the “mainstream” Republicans who laid the trap.
The fact that Trump allowed himself to be tricked into supporting the current healthcare proposal reveals his own naiveté and reminds us, once again, that the Beltway advisors who have surrounded him are objectively bad at politics. Rather than focus on immigration—the issue that defined his candidacy—Trump got sucked into a whirlpool of regulations, arcane policies, climate-change debates, and taxes. This is a shocking waste of political capital, and it is not why his supporters put him in office.
Looking beyond the hysteria of the past two months, if Marco Rubio or Jeb Bush had won the presidency instead Trump, each wouldn’t have acted much differently in terms of policy, aside from the “Muslim bans,” which weren’t actually Muslim bans and have been tossed out anyway. Trump’s fights with the media are hilarious—and serve the strategic purpose of delegitimizing these old-line institutions and the Left as a whole—but they do little in terms of concrete change.
More important, the substance of Trump’s healthcare plan is a fucking joke. What Trump partisans call “Ryancare” or “Obamacare 2.0”—but which everyone else calls “Trumpcare”—will increase costs on Trump’s core constituency of White working-class voters, as even Breitbart points out.
The tedious goober Jason Chaffetz—who won’t defend the president when it comes to the synthetic Russia scandals but is fully aligned with Trump on this stupid bill—has given the Democrats every campaign ad it will ever need when he said people will need to choose between their iPhone and their healthcare.
So let’s call it what it is and not redirect the blame. Trumpcare is exactly the kind of Conservatism, Inc. idiocy we’ve seen year in, year out, where the most loyal constituents of the American Right are given the shaft, while those who despise Republican voters are rewarded.
The spectacle of Paul Ryan giggling with Rich Lowry about how he has been dreaming of cutting Medicare “since you and I were drinking out of kegs” is nothing short of nauseating. Who could relate to such people?
Worse, Trumpcare violates what Trump himself clearly stated. The President promised “insurance for everybody” in his Obamacare replacement plan. Trumpcare accomplishes nothing of the sort. The fundamental flaws in the old plan are preserved, and Ryan’s bill cuts benefits to Trump’s voters in order to keep the system going.
Lindsey Graham has suggested that, rather than put forth a new bill, we should just let Obamacare collapse and foist the blame onto the Democrats. Perhaps this is a better strategy than what is being pursued . . . but it is based on the faulty conservative premise that “Obama’s socialism” is set for an imminent and precipitous breakdown. The far more likely scenario is that Obamacare—much like Medicare, Medicaid, and the rest of the “socialism” in Washington—will limp along for decades, maybe even a century, on borrowed money.
As mentioned, the fundament flaw of Trumpcare is the same as Obamacare: they are insurance schemes and not healthcare programs.
Taking a step back, what we call “health insurance” today is not truly insurance in the proper sense of the word. Essential to the concept of insurance is that no one expects to use it. For the holder, insurance is a hedge against unforeseen, rare, and catastrophic outcomes. For the lender, insurance is a bet that the holder won’t call in the liability. The classic insurance scenario, which dates back to the age of Hammurabi, is when merchants take out loans contingent on a vessel’s safe return from a voyage; if the ship were to sink at sea, the loan would not have to be repaid.
Today, what is called “health insurance” is better understood as a pre-payment or installment program. Everyone expects to use their “insurance” many time a year. Both Trumpcare and Obamacare seek to lower these installment payments by creating mandates and incentives that pool the healthy and the sick, the young and old, as a way of averaging out costs. Fiddling with this absurd model is much like trying to repair a car’s engine by giving it a new paint job.
Moreover, the fact that America has decided to socialize the insurance market, as opposed to socializing healthcare providers, reveals something important about our collective psyche and delusions.
The U.S. is one of the only industrialized nations that has never offered a universal healthcare system, despite the fact that the government spends hundreds of billions in the healthcare market every year. In the American psyche, “socialized medicine” is for whimpy Europeans and the working class. America doesn’t have a proletariate, or rather it has one that thinks of itself as “middle class.” Thus, Americans like talking about “health insurance,” a product for rich people, as opposed to talking about the government simply providing care for people who can’t afford it. A similar situation occurs in the “food stamp” program. Americans are provided with EBT cards (electronic benefit transfer) that act like fancy credit cards. As opposed simply to providing basic foodstuffs for the poor—yes, literally government cheese—Americans like to pretend that we’re all wealthy consumerists out shopping.
If there are two things—two root concepts—that define the Alt Right, they are identity and the red pill, that is, the concept of race and belonging and the ethic of seeing through the pretty lies of our time.
Identity means that we are part of a family, and that we have responsibilities to our people. Unlike Paul Ryan and Rich Lowry, who masturbated to Atlas Shrugged in their college dorms and have no loyalty to their race, Donald Trump is a nationalist. He is a man whose miraculous candidacy was based on promising his lower- and middle-class supporters that he would be their champion—that he understands the system and will make it work form them. If Trump actually believes his own words—and if he recognizes the reality that conservatives like Ryan never liked him, never really supported him, and don’t have his back—then why is he adopting their policies? Why not “rig the system” on his people’s behalf?
Taking the red pill on healthcare also means recognizing that the system was hardly a free-market paradise before Obama: prices were always set through Medicare. Moreover, Obamacare itself wasn’t really “socialism” at all: it was the fake socialism of an insurance scheme. (And let’s not forget that Obamacare’s “individual mandate” ultimately originated in the conservative movement of the late ‘80s.)
The red pill on healthcare also means recognizing the implications of human nature. Libertarians are probably right that a true, unfettered free market would provide “universal” healthcare, much like the markets for vacuum cleaners, hamburgers, and smartphones. But this is ultimately irrelevant. People can’t deal with the notion of rich “fat cats” buying up all the care and poor people getting kicked to the curb. Senator Bill Cassidy was right when he said recently, “There’s a widespread recognition that the federal government, Congress, has created the right for every American to have health care.”
What is most frustrating is that Trump doesn’t even seem to believe in the lame ideas at the heart of Trumpcare. In Trump’s mind, the healthcare bill just seems to be something he wants to “get done” so he can credibly say he fulfilled his promise to repeal Obamacare. Or worse, he has adopted Ryan’s bill like a product he’s “branding,” à la “Trump steaks” or “Trump wine.” Worse still, there is reason to believe Trump favors a single payer solution in his heart of hearts. He cryptically commented during the first GOP debate that a single payer solution “could have worked in a different age. . . .” And Trump seems to understand, or at least did at one time, that healthcare is not like other goods. It is something at some point everyone needs.
Indeed, Trump gestured towards such ideas in his 2000 book, The America We Deserve (and was predictably slammed for it by the likes of über-cuck Erick Erickson). Said Trump:
I’m a conservative on most issues but a liberal on this one. We should not hear so many stories of families ruined by health care expenses. We must not allow citizens with medical problems to go untreated because of financial problems or red tape.
One can expect Trump’s opponents simply to use his own words against him when the time comes, especially as the Democrats (with an assist from the media) are now trying to present themselves as the champions of middle class, who will fight against the plutocrats and libertarians in the GOP. Bernie Sanders, selling universal healthcare to a receptive White crowd in West Virginia a short time ago, is a classic example. (Naturally, he was being disingenuous with this sudden concern for coal miners. During the campaign, Bernie confidently informed us, “When you’re White, you don’t know what it’s like to be poor.”)
And we can’t ignore the politics of this. If Trumpcare passes, leftists can credibly claim that Trump has betrayed his populist vision. They will recycle the hoary script about nationalism and “scapegoating” immigrants as a means of pushing through a draconian agenda. And they’ll have a point! This is the script they’ve used for decades, and it’s astonishing how the House Republicans seem determined to fit the caricature.
Like the Satsuma Rebellion, it’s time for supporters of the Emperor to rise against him in his name. And it is time for the Alt-Right to push for a “public option”—the single-payer system that Obama’s didn’t have the balls to implement.
Yes, of course, we don’t live in Sweden circa 1960; and a single-payer system would be mired by the contradictions of multiculturalism and open borders—but so is the system we have now. We are past the point of trying to impose a rational policy in what is already an irrational situation.
And in any given environment, we have to consider what policy option or political choice will further the strategic objective of moving toward racial consciousness. Universal healthcare accomplishes this in several ways.
Firstly—and most importantly, politically—we must accept that healthcare is an issue we cannot rationally address until we have a European nation. The best we can do is support the most plausible solution that would serve our constituency. The system we have now is essentially the worst of both the free market and socialist options, as the government tries to manipulate prices in order to preserve a nominally “capitalist” system. By doing this, it destroys the pricing mechanism, which is the one critical advantage capitalism has. The result is a bureaucratic nightmare. Universal healthcare is less confusing and nonsensical (and probably cheaper) than what White people have to deal with now.
Secondly, we underestimate the rise of neo-social democracy at our peril. Even as the “Bolivarian Revolution” in Venezuela descends into chaos, socialism is growing more popular in the United States, and easily the most beloved politician is Bernie Sanders. As Dave Weigel observed, only half jokingly, single-payer is really the only way Trump can keep many of his working-class voters on board. It’s hard to believe the Democrats in 2020, under huge pressure from the Left, would nominate another corporate liberal like Hillary Clinton. In the current climate, the group that is most opposed to the Establishment wins. And the implementation of Trumpcare would make it far easier for Trump to be cast as a tool of the ruling class.
Third, we need to think about what single-payer would do for the Alt-Right movement. So many writers, activists, and content creators on our side shy away from becoming more involved, not just out of fear of social punishment, but out of fear of being fired and losing their health insurance. As many wags noted of Breaking Bad, the crippling fear of being sick and being unable to pay for it is one of the defining elements of American life. Single-payer would enable more political soldiers to step forward.
Fourth, it moves the territory away from abstractions about “limited government” and towards issues where we have something to say. When single-payer healthcare is implemented, issues like food safety, nutrition, and obesity become matters of public concern. It will draw more attention to the alternative we are presenting to America’s current lowest-common-denominator society. Contra Jeffrey Tucker, mankind’s highest aspirations are not to be found in a Taco Bell. Not even an American’s highest aspirations.
Finally, along with the looming issue of basic income, once automation really gets going—when those Uber drivers, waiters, and machinists are replaced by software—getting past the healthcare debate means moving to a political battleground where we have the strategic advantage. In one of the many videos now circulating, Marine Le Pen rails against those who are “threatening the survival of the French social model.” As even Paul Krugman once admitted, if you are going to try to guarantee healthcare and a decent income to everyone, you can’t make that offer global. But the Left today is defined by the effort to make each Western nation a microcosm of the non-White world. Indeed, as the fanatically anti-white (even by liberal Jewish standards) Zack Beauchamp observes, a strong social model in many ways enables the growth of the nationalist Right, as cultural and racial issues move to the front of politics.
Of course, the more libertarian elements of the Alt-Right may simply want Trump to pull a Pinochet and defend the free market through outright repression. But in healthcare, there is no free market now nor would there be one under Trumpcare. The incentive structure has been so totally screwed up that nothing short of absolute collapse can restore anything approaching a rational model. And Trump is already showing signs of weakness. He won’t even end DACA, let alone go full Pinochet.
Given these realities, we need to look first at the political situation. If Donald Trump actually signs this horrible bill, he may be ending his term even before it really begins. If the GOP loses the House majority in 2018, he’ll be impeached. And if they don’t, we’ll be looking at President Elizabeth Warren or someone similar in 2020.
Donald Trump became president by ignoring Republican orthodoxy. He’s only going to stay president by continuing to shun it. And we can only hope that Donald Trump, if only for selfish reasons, is not going to sacrifice himself for someone as despicable as Paul Ryan.