Less than a week after the passage of a landmark health care bill into law, the pundits appear to be sure of one thing: this will be used heavily by republicans in the November elections. The most interesting thing about this prognostication isn’t how universal it is, but how very likely it is completely wrong.
The first thing that we have to assume for health care to be a Republican issue in November is that it will be relatively unpopular. Polls are already showing that, as it sinks in, people are beginning to see the various bits and pieces that will work very well for them. Socialism? That’s just a word, but lowering someone’s bills or making it possible for them to actually have health insurance is a bit more real.
If nothing else, the Democrats have gotten something done and shown real leadership – which is generally popular in a world that appears to be out of control. If anyone uses this health care bill as an issue in November, it’s more likely to be the Democrats than their sparring partners.
Beyond the specifics of what happened is the issue of tactics used by the crumbling wreck that was once the might Republican Spin Machine™. They have taken to chucking issues around like a toddler throwing a tantrum. The idea that one issue might stick around for a full 8 months is completely ridiculous – we are far more likely to have seen about 16 issues come and go in that time frame.
This brings me to the very latest conservative assault – the attack on the words “progressive” and “social justice”. I call them an attack on words because, at heart, that is what we have – a semantic argument that is a sure loser for the right no matter how it goes down. With a little help from an organized left we might even make this into a big win. It happens this way.
Fist of all, what has been proposed is that churches and other groups that promote “social justice” are somehow the enemy of conservatism and, by proxy, America, apple pie, motherhood, and all that other stuff. This is an enormous loser for one important reason – the Catholic Church. The pro-life /anti-choice movement had to work for years to bridge the gaps between Protestants and Catholics in order to present a united front. Telling the Catholic side that their emphasis on social justice goes against everything important is to invite the divide to split wide open once again. It’s very, very stupid.
There’s more to it, however. What does “social justice” actually mean? It may look like an easy target because, in many ways, it’s another example of people using a fancy-sounding term when there is a simple one that makes as much sense. However, all the left has to do as a counter is go back to the term we should never have left behind in the first place – Fairness. Is the right now against Fairness? Are they finally willing to admit that working to improve Fairness goes against everything they stand for?
Granted, this is just the first of many issues I expect to come between us and the November elections. What is important here is that in the desperation to find a winner and the complete lack of organization and skill, the conservatives are as likely to destroy themselves as strike any good blows to the left – and could easily land a few blows on themselves if the left gets anything resembling its act together.
Will the health care bill be a big issue for Republicans in November? The way they are going there might not even be a Republican party by November. But perhaps the next issue, or the one after that, won’t be quite as stupid at heart as the one they are plugging right after the health care bill. We’ll just have to see.