The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is the “law of the land.” There’s no going back. The Obama Administration made this point perfectly clear last month with the shutdown battle. Despite the Virginian Republican gubernatorial candidate’s boost from the disastrous roll out of the ACA, he still lost. What lessons can conservatives learn?
First, we have to understand the psychology of liberal domestic policy. Liberal domestic policy purports to be the panacea for all that ails. On the face that appears noble. After all, who doesn’t want to help? But, it is false for that very reason, it is only noble on the face – the administration knew immediately when they wrote the ACA regulations that it would cause harm to millions of Americans satisfied with their insurance. There is nothing noble in a government that actively seeks your dependence and does not promote your departure from it. Therein lies the hook that liberal progressives use to entice and dupe a small majority of the electorate. They prey on the good nature of Americans willing to help the less fortunate. [Note: I submit that politically correct speak is less about mitigating offensive terminology and more about shaping the psychology of the argument that affects policy.]
So, we have policy that naive liberals, apathetic independents, and the “free stuffers” falsely believe is noble and helpful. While this half of the country, as all Americans, may genuinely want to help, their naiveté, apathy, and greed enables them to fall for the enticing sound bites – “help the uninsured, help the middle class,” etc. Too often, the liberal leaning “feel good” response is “someone” has to help, provide, or give, yet they instinctively abdicate the responsibility of assistance to government entities. You don’t hear “I or we have to help, provide, or give.” Unfortunately, their naiveté, apathy, or greed prevents them from considering the unintended consequences, to which the liberal progressives take full advantage.
Liberal progressives have been cultivating this mentality for the last one hundred years. The push to strip church and therefore community from the hearts and minds of the citizens has left a vacuum for that “someone” who will help the needy. They have since stepped in to fill the void with their embodiment of an anonymous village. While everyone knows each other in a village and holds its members accountable, the liberal version of this governmental village does not care to try. In this way, liberal progressives are very astute at framing policy in terms helping, assisting, and giving. However, the goal is not to help, but to get, to get your vote with a simple carrot and stick psychology. This approach works to great effect with an apathetic public.
The counter to the liberal progressive “vote buying” is to reform the sense of community and take back the responsibility to take care of our less fortunate (I have opined to this effect on several occasions – here, here, and here). This is where the results of the Virginian gubernatorial race becomes relevant to this liberal progressive “free stuff society.” The race was lost by separating the Republican and Libertarian vote. Republicans should embrace and court both the conservative and Libertarian voting blocks. The two want the same thing, but arrive at it via two different paths. They both want fiscal responsibility in taxation and spending. They both want less intrusion on liberty. They both want the community to be responsible for itself.
Therefore the lesson is twofold. First, Republicans have to understand that the language and implied psychology of liberal policy has greater impact then the consequences. Republicans could effectively counter with a more Libertarian approach to domestic policy. Be more flexible to the issues. Take abortion for example, they can state that they respect not all people live by conservative values, but would fight to prevent Dr. Kermit Gosnell style and late term abortions. Second, the Republican establishment will fall under the weight of liberal progressive false promises if they don’t unite with the conservative and Libertarian voting blocks. The establishment will have to find a way to unite and satisfy these two factions, otherwise they will fade into irrelevancy.
That’s where I stand. If I haven’t offended you, then I haven’t tried hard enough.