By Alec Carmichael
I Digress 

Clash of the Zealots and the Morally Flexible


Donald Trump learned an important lesson about being a populist with a Conservative House. His Party does not actually support him or his views. Conservative evangelical style Tea Party Republicans are not necessarily prepared to go along with Trump’s idea that he alone gets to decide America’s future. Nor are they willing to concede their extremist ideology in exchange for making their Party look good or get a “win”. The result has been dramatic.

On March 24, the long touted, and dramatically over-blown, repeal and replace came up to the point of no return, and Trump and Speaker Ryan pulled a good old “Brave Sir Robin” (that is to say they “turned tail and fled”) instead of fighting for their long-promised replace package. Or as Trump would have you believe the Democrats screwed it all up and he was merely a bystander in the repeal and replace world anyway. That flexibility in moral certainty is not likely going to win over the freedom caucus anytime soon, but hey who needs scruples anyway, but I digress.

The culprits (aka the Freedom Caucus) are a group of Extreme right Representatives who made their names taking down mainstream Republicans in primary challenges, and then caucusing to leverage power against the brokers in D.C. These guys are the conservative embodiment of Trump’s “drain the swamp mantra” and until now were thought to be an ally. The irony is that they are learning now that Trump has little intent on doing any of the anti-corruption promises he pledged. The result? Rebellion. The Freedom Caucus wants the ACA to fail so dramatically that they could feasibly do away with almost all its reforms, a conservative win if you will. That would be a win against taxation, regulation and supporting the under privileged. That, of course, clashes with populism, which wants to give power back to the under-privileged and perceived neglected in a society.

The comedy of the situation is that as of right now nothing will get changed, fixed or even improved, because the very people who touted a dooms day scenario on the ACA can’t even reconcile enough to fix it. So now we have the luxury of seeing if the ACA will actually destroy the world or if we are better off keeping its reforms. History will likely forget this day (or it may fall as the introduction of the Trump Presidency in history books), but much to the dismay of Republicans the ACA will probably grow in popularity and improve with time, especially if Trump abandons the rhetoric and works on both sides of the aisle to fix the actual problems (something he claimed he would do). The ACA will subsequently go down in history as many progressive agendas did, like the New Deal, Social Security, emancipation and so on, as a policy for the Americans who needed it at the time, despite how badly it pissed off the corporate moguls of America.


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