Yesterday, after a drawn-out legal battle and a terrifying waiting period during which I went from being reasonably confident to having the everloving bejeezus scared out of me to being enraged to being resigned, I was blindsided when the Head Aryan, Chief Oath-Mucker and Justice of the highest court in the land, John Roberts, was apparently visited by the Ghosts of Brünnhilde and Kriemhild in the middle of the night, and convinced by their Aryan wisdom that it will not cause the Apocalypse for the United States to join literally every developed nation on this Earth in providing affordable health insurance for all of its citizens. (<;–behold, one sentence)
Needless to say, while the Sarah Palins prepared their most powerful rhyming counter-curses, I pulled up “Tubthumper” on Spotify, resurrected the Chumbawamba Dance from college (normally reserved for two occasions: glee at being done with a research project, and cheering up anyone bummed out), and posted a video of myself doing said Dance to Facebook. Meanwhile, the Repubisphere and a select few of my Facebook friends who are either misguided Atlas-Shrugged types or new-agers who eschew modern medicine started having a full-on conniption about how NO MORE FREEDOM OH MY GOD NOW WHAT CAN THE GOVERNMENT FORCE US TO BUY, BUTT PLUGS???????????????!?!?!?!??!?!??!?!?!??!?!??!?!?!?
So, first of all, Obamacare naysayers: a big Nelson laugh to you: HA ha. You think this motherfucker has any chance of getting repealed now? Not surprising, since you have no idea how legal precedent works (just as two men getting married will never, ever lead to a man marrying an animal, fining someone for failing to purchase health insurance will never, ever lead to forcing someone to buy broccoli), so you obviously also have no idea how the legislative process works.
In order to repeal an existing law (parts of which have already taken effect and for which it would be nearly impossible to un-ring that bell: “I’m sorry Mrs. Snood, we’re going to pull your son out of chemotherapy mid-course because it turns out he was gol-durn BORN with that leukemia!”), the Senate would need that precious, precious filibuster-proof majority, and not just of GOPers, as there are a few moderates left clinging to their seats. It would somehow have to oust well-beloved Senators from huge Democratic strongholds and replace them with complete Reactionaries. Since the last time I checked, Congress’s approval rating was in the single digits, comprising loathing and skepticism for the partisan screechery on both sides of the aisle, a single-party takeover of filibuster-proof proportions is predicted in the next two years by exactly nobody. Ergo, the Affordable Care Act will be implemented in 2014, and shortly thereafter, it will go down in history along with Social Security and Medicare as one of the fundamental elements of our social contract and of the United States as a civilized society. Just as it is now unthinkable that any country full of reasonable adults would let its senior citizens die destitute after lifetimes as productive citizens, it will soon be unthinkable that we ever allowed children to die because their “pre-existing conditions” precluded them from lifesaving care, or that people used emergency rooms as their primary care facilities because they had no other choice.
Once Americans have Obamacare, they will never, ever, ever give it up (just as I now have an iPhone, which I was skeptical of for years, and now would be hysterical to have to part with). This shit is a done deal. So, I understand the temper tantrums from the right wing right now, because this is going to mean that the United States’ first Black President, Barack Hussein Obama, will be remembered not as a dithering disappointment, but as a champion of the middle class and as the person with the balls and the (albeit circuitous) ability to finally. Finally. Finally. Get the United States into the mid-20th Century.
So, since Conservatives absolutely hate the shit out of Barack Hussein Obama, and have spent the better part of the last three years doing seriously everything in their apoplectic power to prevent him from getting anything done, you can imagine their disappointment right now–especially since it was their boy Chief Justice Siegfried the Dragon-Slayer who set it in stone.
So let them have their hissy fits. Is it worth it to point out that there is literally nowhere for them to go in this world where the standard of living is high enough for them and yet universal health care is not present? Probably not, though it is a hilarious fact. Is it worth it to point out that the government has actually had the power to bestow tax credits on people who eat broccoli for 200 years and yet hasn’t? That I already right now as we speak get a $125 credit per year from the State of Ohio for things like going to the gym, belonging to Weight Watchers, and not smoking? That the tax code has been rewarding and penalizing people based on their personal life choices (marriage, children, homeownership, city/suburb living, etc) for decades? Well, you’re welcome to try; I did yesterday and I was met with TYRANNY!! YOU TYRANNICAL BITCH I’D STILL FUCK YOU BECAUSE YOU’RE ATTRACTIVE BUT GO LIVE IN NORTH KOREA. For serious.
Yes, Obamacare is still pretty weaksauce without a strong public option, but less-backwards states will likely begin implementing that soon now that the major obstacle–the uninsured using the ER as their GP’s office and the rest of us sharing the cost–will be out of the way. And if you think that yet another tax penalty for doing something that isn’t in the best interest of the country is either unprecedented or unfair, then, well, just keep thinking that, because you’ll still have to participate, and nothing could make me more delighted than knowing that.
Why? Because Obamacare means a tremendous amount to me personally as well as ideologically and pragmatically. Given the opportunity to purchase my own affordable health insurance that is not tied to my employer, I will be able to continue doing what I love: teaching college. The tenure-track market is disappearing and my prediction is that in 30 years it will be gone altogether, replaced entirely with contract workers. This has potentially devastating consequences for the quality of education our country’s young people receive…consequences that will be mitigated if adjuncts are able to insure themselves for a reasonable (and at times, yes, subsidized) amount and thus able to teach a mere four courses per semester instead of the eight it sometimes requires to purchase private insurance for $2000 a month for a family of four.
Further, if Obamacare had been struck down, I would have had to make at least one of two drastic and unwelcome changes in my life: I would have had to either quit academia altogether and join the corporate world, in which I a) suck and b) would be effectively taking away a job from someone who would actually like it and flourish in it; or, I would have to marry my partner of six years simply to join his health plan. For both personal and political reasons I oppose the institution of marriage (for myself–you want to get married? Go do it); my vows would have been like: “I do take you W.R. to be my lawful husband inasmuch as the bigoted state of Missourah does not offer domestic partner benefits, and can go fuck itself.” So Obamacare has saved me from two things: from leaving the career I truly love and honestly believe I was put on this Earth to do, and will happily do part-time as long as I can afford to get sick, and from the institution of marriage, in which I have already done time and never plan to do so again. Obamacare has preserved my freedom, it has not taken it away. And if the price of that freedom is some stubborn idiot paying $500 a year so that when he gets run over by a steamroller and the ER doctors have to put him back together even though he can’t pay for it the rest of us don’t have to share the cost of his idiocy, I say it’s well worth it.