Leftist Blog: GOP Effort to Undermine Obamacare Stems From a Leninist ‘Punishment Impulse in Right-Wing Politics’

What do Lee Atwater, Karl Rove, and Vladimir Lenin have in common? If you answered that they’re all Republican strategists, you’re sort of right, suggested Seth D. Michaels in a Thursday article at Talking Points Memo.

Michaels claimed that GOPers are using a Leninist approach to subvert an increased government role in the health-care system. (Oh, the irony.) Specifically, they’ve taken “deliberate action to make the bad [Obamacare] outcomes they fervently wished for more likely…There’s a name for this strategy, [which] comes from Soviet Communism: ‘heighten the contradictions.’”

From Michaels’s piece (emphasis added):

The Republican response [to the Halbig decision] was predictable: a resounding “we told you so.” All along, they insisted that the ACA wouldn’t work, that it would raise costs — and when reality didn’t match with their scary stories, they took deliberate action to make the bad outcomes they fervently wished for more likely…

There’s a name for this strategy, [which] comes from Soviet Communism: “heighten the contradictions.” The idea is to root for, and even enable, bad outcomes of your ideological opponents’ power, in the hopes that these bad outcomes will convince people to rise up against your opponents. It’s a grim way to look at the world, but here we are.

The Affordable Care Act is working pretty much as intended, and real people are benefiting, so Republicans are obliged to try and impose unnecessary suffering on their constituents so that they’ll demand repeal...


If the Halbig ruling is upheld, they’ll have a whole new way to heighten the contradictions. “Just look at how much more it costs now,” they’ll say, with “thanks to our lawsuit” as a whispered aside. It’s like breaking someone’s nose, pointing to the blood on their shirt, and saying, “see, I knew you couldn’t keep your shirt clean”…

Congress could make the Halbig ruling completely irrelevant with a paragraph-long bill qualifying that state exchanges run by the federal government are equivalent to state-run exchanges. But that would require House Republicans to acknowledge that ACA is the law and it’s providing people with benefits. That would distract them from the very important task of demanding full, unconditional repeal. They’d rather people pay more.

Its hard to escape the conclusion that this isn’t just meant to prove an ideological point. It feels downright punitive.

The punishment impulse in right-wing politics isn’t limited to health care. You see it in the continued refusal to extend unemployment benefits, the constant demands for drug-testing food stamp recipients, and the creepy belief that birth control shouldn’t count as health care because sex needs to have “consequences”…

Tom Johnson
Tom Johnson
Tom Johnson is a contributing writer for NewsBusters