At Robert Stark’s request, I’ve decided to write about the demise of the Republican healthcare bill and its implications for Trumpian nationalism. Long story short, Paul Ryan tried to replace Obamacare – which, ironically, was spawned by the conservative Heritage Foundation and later became Romneycare – with an even worse policy, and failed.
While I have argued many times that America’s healthcare system is a vile abomination, the passage of Ryancare/Trumpcare would have compounded the problem. Therefore, I’m grateful that the American Health Care Act (AHCA) went down in flames, and that Obamacare – as lousy as it is – remains intact. Let this be a lesson: not all shit equally stinks.
With that out of the way, I’d like to direct your attention to an article by Richard Spencer (HT: Robert Stark). In his post, Spencer asserts that President Trump should champion universal healthcare and repudiate the usual True Conservative nonsense. Such libertarian lunacy is politically toxic, and promoting it will only bury The Donald – an ostensible outsider who rose to power by pissing on beltway Republican dogmas. Spencer writes:
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.
Spencer is absolutely correct. Since one of Donald Trump’s selling points was that he – an independent billionaire – didn’t owe anyone, passing Trumpcare would have only exposed him as a corporate shill. On the flip side, if Trump can somehow pull off single-payer, the populist right would gain a tremendous amount of credibility. As commenter Kate Hikes points out, Trump owning universal healthcare would force both neoliberals and “cucks” into a corner:
Politically, this would also split the Democrats, with the left wing of the party getting what they want and either having to back Trump or finding themselves with a heck of a job equivocating about why they oppose something they’ve always supported; meanwhile, the right of the party, which opposes universal healthcare, would have to explain to most of their constituents why they can’t back giving them what they want. It would also cause uproar in the Republican party of course, but that’s all to the good from our perspective.
Put simply, whoever passes single-payer will alter the political landscape for generations. As I’ve argued before, I think the alt right has potential to make inroads with disaffected white “Brocialist” types. What better way to do that than take up the fight for universal healthcare? Similar to European nationalists like Marine Le Pen, the alt right can gain ground by championing certain progressive causes – universal healthcare, a stronger safety net, and a higher minimum wage – abandoned (or largely ignored) by the corporatized cultural left. Even the socialist magazine Jacobin acknowledged that right-wing populism could score a huge victory by filling in this void left by liberals.
Political calculations aside, single-payer would render potential dissidents less dependent on employers for basic necessities, enabling them to more openly espouse their beliefs. Spencer writes:
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.
Similar to debt deflation, our current healthcare albatross renders Americans meek and servile. Needless to say, lancing this boil will embolden would-be dissidents. Additionally, the sooner we resolve our healthcare crisis and move on to more important matters, the better. Ultimately, if Trumpism wants to endure, it cannot keep catering to wealthy donors.
However, as I warned the alt right on Alternative Right and Robert Stark’s show, expecting Trump to embrace populism and improve our political economy was (is) pure folly. The man’s a New York billionaire, and he cares way more about his rich buddies than you; just look at his obscenely wealthy cabinet members. Besides Trump’s lack of decorum and propensity to piss off liberal weenies – which the alt right loves – his policies are typical slash-and-burn, “trickle down” Reaganomics crap.
In conclusion, I applaud Richard Spencer for holding Trump accountable and demanding that he honor his yuge promises; but I’m not holding my breath. Fortunately, if the likes of Paul Ryan continue to get taken down a peg, we might just see some positive changes.