Consider: politically, for Democrats, the “best” result last night would have been for Trumpcare to proceed to the House and thence to Trump’s desk.
Cue the ads with grieving parents of dead kids vs footage of [YOUR REPUBLICAN CONGRESSCRITTER] doing keg stands with Trump in the rose garden. The thing polled at 18% on a good day. Every group from AMA to AARP to unions to industry lobbyists opposed it. Hell the people voting for it opposed it. The Dem faithful would be galvanized to knock on doors, register voters, drive people to polls. Disgusted Republicans would stay home in droves. Wavering independents would look at that 20% premium increase & cutbacks in their employer coverage and know exactly who to blame.
In that scenario 2018 would be a bloodbath. And with ACA dead, it would really open the door to the Democratic holy grail: universal healthcare. “Winning” this battle also opens the door for Trump to kill ACA with a thousand paper cuts — a much less inspiring fight to rally the troops against.
So never forget this: Democratic politicians stuck with their principles. That principle is the same as it was in 2008–9: everyone in America deserves affordable healthcare. Not in 2018, not in some vaporware plan, but right now with the best we can do with the system we already have. Winning the ACA fight means people today don’t die. Democrats knew in 2009 they would pay a political price for their principles, and boy did they. The same thing happened this week. By doing the right thing Democrats made 2018 a harder fight for themselves. Because they really believe everyone in America deserves affordable healthcare.
Whenever someone offers the lazy formulation that “politicians are all the same,” remember:
Democrats sacrificed their political goals to do what they thought was best for America. Twice. Three times if you count the healthcare battle of 1993. They tried to reach across the aisle — which is how they wound up sacrificing themselves for a Republican plan (the ACA) in the first place. They’ve been fighting this battle for decades and paying the political price for it.
Contrast with Republicans. Republicans spun and prevaricated for seven years. They whipped up the base with impossible promises and did zero homework. Then they whanged out a bill everyone hated and tried to pass it two hours later in the middle of the night when they hoped no one was paying attention.
Those two behaviors are not morally equivalent and you know it.