We are watching one of those games played by politicians, especially at the national level. It is one of those childish, by my definition, games that seem destined to be part of the national political scene ad infinitum. The ‘game’ becomes more important than that which the game is supposedly about.
This game is about ObamaCare and the repeal and/or replacement of that program. The primary players are the President, the Republicans and the really conservative Republicans known as the Freedom Caucus…and the Democrats. Almost everyone in power in D.C. is involved to one degree or another in this game. The Dems have a lot at stake if being embarrassed about their ‘middle of the night’ power grab that gave us the fiasco known as ObamaCare is included in this equation. They delight at the moment because the spotlight that properly shines on this debacle that has their fingerprints all over it has given them a place in the background as the game players do their dance. It also has given them significant leverage they couldn’t have otherwise found.
The game pits Democrats and Republicans but more importantly for some, it brings President Trump into the mix and this opportunity for Democrats is simply too wonderful to ignore. It also brings rivalry between House and Senate into the mix since the Senate has always held itself out to be the saner and more adult of these two bodies. The House is essentially, from their point-of-view, composed of riff-raff that could only get a two-year term while they’re each seated for six-year terms. The House has 435 members but the vaunted Senate has only 100 members. No wonder the Senate feels itself to be the superior body.
Every once in a while, we the people seem to be forgotten by one or both bodies and that is especially true when this new arrogant Republican President stands to be humiliated if the game is played just right. After all, he is ‘all in’ now having taken his swing at the cat, so he is fair game.
This august body of the best of the best we can elect is human. Each individually, with some exceptions I’ll grant, are pretty decent people. I’ve met some. I’ve studied the Bible with one on a couple of occasions. If we put 535 people into a room, there would certainly be a good statistical probability that there’d be a few who we’d rather weren’t there, but…
Politics is a blood sport no matter how much we try to avoid that realization. I don’t know when that began to occur nor do I know just how and by whom that term was initiated. I suspect that goes back centuries in our world. But there are these times when too many politicians find it too difficult simply to conduct our business when they determine that their political enemies are so vulnerable to being whacked good and hard upside the head.
It is especially in these times that you and I become relatively invisible and are virtually completely forgotten. I do not include all politicians in this condemnation, but I include too many in leadership to my liking. I know they’d tell me that they simply have to protect self and party and that, in the end, this all works out for the better. This is oft equated to the making of sausage which destroys my appetite for sausage for a few days.
So we the electorate again have the opportunity to see what we’ve spawned, or at the least what we’ve facilitated. These equivalents to a professional wrestling match seem to somehow go away and the bodies return to doing the business of we the people. We do not often ‘repeal and replace’ the person at election time. We forget what stunts were perpetrated on us voters, and we presume they have our best interests at heart…and after all, making sausage is not necessarily pretty.
We are watching one of these epic political games being played at the moment, and it is either ugly or beautiful depending on your political persuasion. But, no matter your political belief, these are the times that try the patience of many of us since we are forgotten as the focus turns from us and our wants and needs to the players and their wants and needs as if those differ.
I cringe, personally, when I see some of the big names in our national political world reduce their stature to that of a two-year-old through a fit of temper (with all due apologies to two-year-olds). It is at these times that we are exposed to the raw underbelly of our system of governance and that raw underbelly is ugly as the dickens!
Were we there would we be conducting ourselves similarly? Only we know, or think we know, the answer to that question. But it is a question worthy of our hushed personal response.
Update: The ACA bill was pulled before a vote occurred and that obviously was due to the Republican members of the Freedom Caucus. This is potentially a development that overshadows the rest of this session of Congress. House Speaker Ryan was not specific as to where the non-voters were to be found, BUT all, other than for the members of the Freedom Caucus, were publicly committed to voting in favor of this bill.
Is it possible that other members of the Republican caucus developed cold feet? Yes, but that is highly unlikely since they are thought to have made their commitment and would’ve been obligated to stick with their word. This also, for the moment at least, means that any wavering Senators are off the hook for now. Will this come back for another vote? Possibly but that might be asking for further embarrassment of both Speaker Ryan and President Trump.
This is a significant setback for the Republicans and will make Democrats all the more certain they’ll stick with their position.
Beyond the politics, the ObamaCare plans are in trouble with heavy claims experience that will mean premium rate increases or benefit cutbacks or a combination of both.