Jonathan Chait wonders if any positive information about Obamacare can get through the conservative media blackout, Someone Tell Ted Cruz the Obamacare War Is Over. He isn’t alone; a lot of people wonder how it can be that in conservativeworld, all the news is bad. But this is just more of liberal commentators thinking that the conservative movement is just like any other political movement. It is best to think of modern conservatism as cult.
Regardless of what kind of healthcare reform had been implemented, liberals would have been hopefully optimistic that it would work. Most liberals are not that keen on Obamacare, but even if they had gotten the single payer system that they wanted, they would have watched closely to see how it was doing. They would have been pretty sure that it was going to work well, but they would have been ultimately constrained by the facts on the ground.
Conservatives are quite different. Or perhaps it is more accurate to say that conservative opinion leaders are quite different. They don’t think that conservative policies are the best; they know. So when it comes to Obamacare, they are sure it is going to be bad. They don’t need the random bit of positive data to confuse the issue. Anyway, what makes a policy the best is not what works the best as most people would define it. The attack on Obamacare is not even about the ridiculous notion that it will deprive people of “freedom” by making them change their healthcare. (It doesn’t do that, anyway, not that it matters.) They aren’t even against it because of their generalized hatred of poor people who the program helps. They are against the program because it raises taxes a small amount on the wealthy.
So Chait may think that lower individual premiums is a good thing. He may think that reduced long-term Medicare spending projections is great. He may think that tens of millions of people getting health insurance is wonderful. And I agree with him! We ought to be dancing in the street. But none of these things cut the taxes of the rich, who it turns out already have really good healthcare. So there really is no good news on the Obamacare front.
What conservatives write in the National Review and the opinion pages of the Wall Street Journal are not what the conservative elite actually think. Those articles are for the conservatives in the pews. They are the official conservative line for dissemination to the little conservatives who are by and large not well served by the movement they support. There is a pathway for this misinformation: Wall Street Journal opinion page to Rush Limbaugh to the dittoheads. As awful as those dittoheads are, they aren’t going to be so easily led if Rush was telling them, “We need to let the poor die so the rich can be free to not pay a penny more in taxes.” And part of the problem is that we liberals don’t call out the conservative movement for what it is. We need to stop pretending they actually function as a normal political movement. It is all about the people believing the Truth brought to them by the elites. It is all faith-based down low, but at the top, the elites have very sensible reasons for their beliefs.