Obamacare civil war! Conservatives vs. the Old Guard

The election of 2016 saw the Republican Party take the presidency, House, and Senate with the greatest majorities since the 1920s.  The Republicans have also ridden the wave to a majority in most state legislatures and have secured the largest number of governorships in memory.  There is little doubt that the Democrats have been routed and are now reduced to peddling conspiracy theories about Russia.  Seemingly, this would be cause for celebration, but that is not happening in D.C.  Far from being jovial and looking forward to accomplishing their agenda, the Republicans are locked in a ruthless civil war, exposed by the problem of Obamacare.

On one side is the old-guard establishment Republicans, the GOPe, who quite like the status quo and are timid about anything that generates bad press.  They are among the few left in the country who listen to the mainstream media and take what the media say as gospel.  They are terrified of the prospect of the masses being thrown off health insurance and will do anything to avoid it, even if that means doing nothing.  These Republicans supported the safe primary candidates like Jeb Bush and John Kasich.

The other side are the frustrated conservative Republicans who have, so far, been unable to push their agenda because they lack the critical mass to do so in the legislature and are blocked by the GOPe.  These conservatives believe in small government, market-based solutions, flipping the board on all entitlements, and destroying the federal government's power.  They will accept nothing less than a full repeal of Obamacare.  They are the same politicians who supported conservatives like Cruz.

The only things these two factions have in common are their love for free trade and their opposition to Trump.  People from both factions populated the NeverTrump movement in the primaries and campaigned against Trump significantly more than they ever did against Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton.  They also share a problem – namely, that Trump won the primary decisively and won the election just as decisively.

Trump, on the other hand, has brought a third faction into the Republican Party: the nationalist populist or America First faction.  This faction is what carried Trump to victory in the primary and in the general election.  It consists of what Trump likes to call the "Forgotten Man," who are, in many cases, apolitical citizens.  The America First group spans the conservative, and some Democratic Party, ideologies.  They are pragmatists, not concerned about ideology, and not bound by it, either.  These people make up the so-called "blue wall" of the upper Midwest, the people who have never voted before, and those disaffected by both parties.

The America First voters have paid into Social Security all their lives and don't see why they should have to forgo it merely because the feds can't balance their checkbooks.  They are also amenable to helping out poor people so long as that help is used to help people out of poverty, not trap them in poverty.  These concepts annoy the conservatives greatly.  The America First voters also believe in free-market capitalism, smaller government, market-based solutions, and keeping the government out of their churches and schools.  These principles are antithetical to the GOPe.  If that weren't bad enough, the America First voters annoy both factions with their belief that protecting American jobs is a good thing even if that does hamper perfectly free trade.  Most importantly, these people see Trump as their messenger, and Trump agrees with them.

Now that a bill has come up for debate on Obamacare and has been endorsed by President Trump, the conservative and GOPe factions are out for blood.  The conservatives won't budge an inch and will see Rep. Paul Ryan's replacement bill go down in flames if it doesn't have a full repeal in it.  The GOPe won't pass a bill that they feel will result in the deprivation of health insurance for any American currently on Obamacare.  So an impasse is reached.  As a result, the Republican Party is tearing itself apart, and the most likely outcome is that nothing at all will get done.

The GOP's players are also deluding themselves into thinking that the 2018 election will oust their political foes.  Remember, the Democrats aren't even a factor in this war.  The reality is that voters will see that the Republicans have had both chambers of the legislature for two years and the presidency yet nevertheless have hung the American people out to dry for political reasons.  The bloodbath that will ensue at the polls is wildly unpredictable.

Instead of compromising with one other, and making a bill neither side likes but both can live with, the two sides are entrenched like the French and Germans in World War I, neither side able to move and neither side willing to come to the bargaining table.  Trump has the unenviable job of trying to bring these two coalitions together to accomplish something before the blue wall goes back to blue and there is no more chance to accomplish anything.  However, until both sides can come together, the likely result is that the entire America First agenda of health care reform, tax reform, and the border wall will come to a screeching halt.  After that, the wrath of the America First voters will be heavy and unpredictable.

The only good news out of this is that the Democrats are too busy smashing themselves on the rocks of Russian conspiracy theories to do themselves any favors.  The Republicans had better wake up before the Democrats wake up first and figure out that truthful coverage of this internecine war will do the Democrats far more political good than spouting conspiracy theories. 

Robert Simmons, Jr., MSc. (Kraythe)

The election of 2016 saw the Republican Party take the presidency, House, and Senate with the greatest majorities since the 1920s.  The Republicans have also ridden the wave to a majority in most state legislatures and have secured the largest number of governorships in memory.  There is little doubt that the Democrats have been routed and are now reduced to peddling conspiracy theories about Russia.  Seemingly, this would be cause for celebration, but that is not happening in D.C.  Far from being jovial and looking forward to accomplishing their agenda, the Republicans are locked in a ruthless civil war, exposed by the problem of Obamacare.

On one side is the old-guard establishment Republicans, the GOPe, who quite like the status quo and are timid about anything that generates bad press.  They are among the few left in the country who listen to the mainstream media and take what the media say as gospel.  They are terrified of the prospect of the masses being thrown off health insurance and will do anything to avoid it, even if that means doing nothing.  These Republicans supported the safe primary candidates like Jeb Bush and John Kasich.

The other side are the frustrated conservative Republicans who have, so far, been unable to push their agenda because they lack the critical mass to do so in the legislature and are blocked by the GOPe.  These conservatives believe in small government, market-based solutions, flipping the board on all entitlements, and destroying the federal government's power.  They will accept nothing less than a full repeal of Obamacare.  They are the same politicians who supported conservatives like Cruz.

The only things these two factions have in common are their love for free trade and their opposition to Trump.  People from both factions populated the NeverTrump movement in the primaries and campaigned against Trump significantly more than they ever did against Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton.  They also share a problem – namely, that Trump won the primary decisively and won the election just as decisively.

Trump, on the other hand, has brought a third faction into the Republican Party: the nationalist populist or America First faction.  This faction is what carried Trump to victory in the primary and in the general election.  It consists of what Trump likes to call the "Forgotten Man," who are, in many cases, apolitical citizens.  The America First group spans the conservative, and some Democratic Party, ideologies.  They are pragmatists, not concerned about ideology, and not bound by it, either.  These people make up the so-called "blue wall" of the upper Midwest, the people who have never voted before, and those disaffected by both parties.

The America First voters have paid into Social Security all their lives and don't see why they should have to forgo it merely because the feds can't balance their checkbooks.  They are also amenable to helping out poor people so long as that help is used to help people out of poverty, not trap them in poverty.  These concepts annoy the conservatives greatly.  The America First voters also believe in free-market capitalism, smaller government, market-based solutions, and keeping the government out of their churches and schools.  These principles are antithetical to the GOPe.  If that weren't bad enough, the America First voters annoy both factions with their belief that protecting American jobs is a good thing even if that does hamper perfectly free trade.  Most importantly, these people see Trump as their messenger, and Trump agrees with them.

Now that a bill has come up for debate on Obamacare and has been endorsed by President Trump, the conservative and GOPe factions are out for blood.  The conservatives won't budge an inch and will see Rep. Paul Ryan's replacement bill go down in flames if it doesn't have a full repeal in it.  The GOPe won't pass a bill that they feel will result in the deprivation of health insurance for any American currently on Obamacare.  So an impasse is reached.  As a result, the Republican Party is tearing itself apart, and the most likely outcome is that nothing at all will get done.

The GOP's players are also deluding themselves into thinking that the 2018 election will oust their political foes.  Remember, the Democrats aren't even a factor in this war.  The reality is that voters will see that the Republicans have had both chambers of the legislature for two years and the presidency yet nevertheless have hung the American people out to dry for political reasons.  The bloodbath that will ensue at the polls is wildly unpredictable.

Instead of compromising with one other, and making a bill neither side likes but both can live with, the two sides are entrenched like the French and Germans in World War I, neither side able to move and neither side willing to come to the bargaining table.  Trump has the unenviable job of trying to bring these two coalitions together to accomplish something before the blue wall goes back to blue and there is no more chance to accomplish anything.  However, until both sides can come together, the likely result is that the entire America First agenda of health care reform, tax reform, and the border wall will come to a screeching halt.  After that, the wrath of the America First voters will be heavy and unpredictable.

The only good news out of this is that the Democrats are too busy smashing themselves on the rocks of Russian conspiracy theories to do themselves any favors.  The Republicans had better wake up before the Democrats wake up first and figure out that truthful coverage of this internecine war will do the Democrats far more political good than spouting conspiracy theories. 

Robert Simmons, Jr., MSc. (Kraythe)

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