Is Obamacare Un-American?

For the most part, I don't want this blog to be about politics, but some issues begin to occupy the mind in a way that calls for explication. Following the contentious "Obamacare" struggle, one core question keeps occurring to me, namely, what do Tea Party Republicans, and Republicans in general, mean when they say that the ACA is un-American? As far as I can tell it could mean four things.

First is that only purely market-driven solutions qualify as "American" ones. But that doesn't make sense for a couple reasons. First, there never has been and never will be a purely market-driven economy. Second, intensely American institutions like the military have no relationship to the market whatsoever.

The next is that the American way is for people to work for what they get and not to accept government handouts or subsidies. But that misses the fact that many tens of millions of people work full time (and often more) and do not receive or cannot afford any insurance at all.

Third, is the mandate aspect. This idea was actually developed by the Heritage Foundation and other conservatives to address the free-loading problem, so as recently as the 90s and early 00s, the mandate wasn't seen by conservatives as un-American. Further, everyone is required to have auto insurance. The "freedom" being compromised by ACA most significantly is the freedom to have one's life ruined by medical expenses and a lack of care.

Fourth, is the part about this being national in scope, as opposed to a decision made by each individual state, with an orientation toward state autonomy being the foundation of American success. This is probably the strongest argument, though I think the reasoning behind the ACA is that the nature and problems of health care delivery demand a national solution.

All of this is not to say that Obamacare is a good idea. The challenges of even attempting it, at this scale and without bipartisan support (indeed with partisan attempts at sabotage), are immense. But it does seem to me that most of the opposing arguments based on the notions of what is properly American simply don't hold water.


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