Why the right will give up its fight on Obamacare

As I sit here typing with a throbbing right shoulder and splintered left knee, I am confronted with two thoughts: 1. Maybe 32 is the age at which my body starts to deteriorate, and 2. Thank Maddow that President Barack Obama’s singular health-care-reform legislation is now and forever untouchable.

Forever ever?

Yes, André 3000, forever ever.

The Mitt Romney-Paul Ryan ticket was the conservatives’ best hope of repealing the Affordable Care Act. But that ticket got punched, and even tanorexic House Speaker John Boehner told Diane Sawyer, “Obamacare is the law of the land.”

But wait, the devil on my aching right shoulder interjects, “What if a deflated Grand Old Party gets its mojo back and sends Jeb Bush, Chris Christie or some other candidate into the White House in 2016? Why can’t Republicans just repeal Obamacare then?”

“Because by then,” my dodgy left knee replies, “most of our re-elected president’s health-care bill will be in effect, and people will realize just how much they’ve been jonesing for the law’s biggest provisions: Coverage for tens of millions of people who can’t currently afford it or have been blocked by those pesky ’preconditions.’”

Young adults will have gotten used to remaining on their parents’ health-care plan until the age of 26. And we may even begin seeing escalating health-care costs start to flatline as the nation’s massive rolls of uninsured (which include the working poor and, for the last few years, rambling journalists like myself) are able to see a doctor outside of an incredibly expensive emergency-room visit for which taxpayers have been footing the bill.

In two short years, the slander Obamacare’s red-faced opponents have been spreading about the law will carry less water than Brit Hume’s wrinkled jowls. We’ll think of the noxious claims about a government takeover of health care, death panels and small businesses being forced into bankruptcy like we did our brief flirtation with horse-spanking Korean pop music: Uh, dude, everybody was doing it.

By 2014—during the next congressional elections—Republicans won’t dare try dismantling the law. Their best shot was before implementation, when they could fabricate their own narrative. Only the future could prove them wrong. And now it will.

You have to hand it to those guys, though. They tried their best to create an alternative reality, and they largely succeeded. In surveys where people were asked how they view the divisively termed “Obamacare,” the results trend reliably negative. But in surveys where the individual provisions of the law are explained to people, those surveyed are uniformly supportive, says Sacramento State University political-science professor Kimberly Nalder.

That dichotomy, says Nalder, director of the college’s new Project for an Informed Electorate, shows just how effectively misinformation infects our brains and how difficult it is to purge once it’s introduced.

There remain large pockets of residual belief in Obamacare’s “big-government evils.” And not even its supporters would call it a perfect bill. But the far right’s realization that this debate is over is equally bittersweet. On the one hand, maybe we can now talk about improving the bill, rather than have one side screaming that it will be responsible for forced puppy abortions. On the other, it is a kick to the soul that the right-wing retreat has only to do with politics. This was a battle they pitched for party, not country.

That truth reveals just how cynical the ultra-right political machinery in this country works, and why all those talking haircuts on Fox News were so comically depressed on election night. They were realizing they hadn’t only lost the White House, they lost the ability to manipulate reality for millions of current and future health-care recipients. And that’s a hard pill to swallow.