The Republican right wing has always been more than a little over the top when it comes to President Obama’s health care reform. They have a bizarre preoccupation with vilifying the president over this landmark piece of legislation. It has been described as everything from the harbinger of doom for the nation’s economy to the end of Western civilization.
Lately, the nation has been treated to a new stream of rhetoric that cannot be accurately described as anything but wacky. The latest assault comes from Michele Bachmann, the congresswoman from Minnesota who is a darling of the Tea Party and a former presidential candidate who is no stranger to hyperbole.
“We’re saying repeal this failure before it literally kills women, kills children, kills senior citizens,” Bachmann said, on the floor of the House of Representatives this week. “Let’s not do that. Let’s love people. Let’s care about people. Let’s repeal it now while we can.”
After that, she returned to the House floor and proclaimed that Medicaid, the giant federal and state health program for lower-income Americans, is a "ghetto."
There is a stubborn resistance in the part of Bachmann and so many of her cohorts in the Republican fringe world to accept the fact that Obamacare has become a reality, validated and stamped by no less than the United States Supreme Court. There is a further determination on their part to turn a blind eye to the fact that so many Americans — many of them Black and brown — will now have improved access to health care.
Part of this stubbornness is, of course, political. To play to their base, the Republican frenzied right will continue to do all in their power to whip up hysteria over the Affordable Care Act, believing that it will enhance their own political prospects. Whether their fears are a reflection of facts is utterly insignificant to them.
There is a danger to this strategy, however. Americans are not fond of over-the-top rhetoric that seeks to create a hysterical public reaction. In the case of Bachmann, the hyperbolic overkill has gradually, but irrevocably, relegated her to the position of national laughingstock.
The other — and highly significant — factor is that three years after its passage, Obamacare is increasingly embraced by the American people, including more Republican governors who have a hand in how it is administered. The tide of public opinion began to change during the 2012 presidential election, when the Obama campaign firmly — and belatedly — began to tout the benefits of this important initiative. Despite what the Republicans might suggest, Obamacare is a good thing that helps people, the campaign finally pronounced while offering concrete examples.
Most important, Obamacare is now viewed by more and more people as a fulfillment of a long-awaited goal to make health care more accessible and more affordable and, thus, as something to celebrate.
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