The sunny view of Obamacare is that once it's an established, familiar part of our lives, Americans will enthusiastically embrace it and find it impossible to imagine going back to a time before we had it. (That's also, for right-wingers, the gloomy view of Obamacare.) Repealing it will be as unthinkable as repealing Social Security or Medicare.
But I don't believe that. I think Obamacare is going to be like legal abortion: it's going to be something right-wingers never stop picking away at, and always regard as a long-term grievance.
The New York Times reports:
... in Virginia's capital, conservative activists are pursuing a hardball campaign as they chart an alternative path to undoing "Obamacare" -- through the states.It "represents a split" only in the sense that the state-by-state fight for fetal heartbeat laws and mandatory transvaginal ultrasounds "represents a split" from the fight for a national Human Life Amendment -- yes, one is incremental and the other isn't, one is state-based and the other is national, but they're part of the same struggle.
One leading target is Emmett W. Hanger Jr., a Republican state senator from the deeply conservative Shenandoah Valley, who prides himself on "going against the grain." As chairman of a commission weighing one of the thorniest issues in Virginia politics, whether to expand Medicaid under Mr. Obama's Affordable Care Act, he is feeling heat from the Republican right.
His openness to expansion has aroused the ire of Americans for Prosperity, the conservative advocacy group backed by the billionaire industrialist brothers Charles and David Koch. Dressed in emerald green T-shirts bearing the slogan "Economic Freedom in Action!" its members are waging what the senator calls "an attempt to intimidate me" in Richmond and at home.
They have phoned his constituents, distributed leaflets and knocked on 2,000 doors in his rural district. When the Republican town committee met Monday night in Mr. Hanger's home county, Augusta, Americans for Prosperity was there....
"This has been one of those trench warfare kind of efforts for a year now, and I think it is one of those hidden stories of the whole fight against Obamacare," said Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity. "It's not flashy; it's just in a whole bunch of state capitals and in the districts of a whole lot of state legislators, but it's such a crucial aspect of the overall long-term effort to roll back Obamacare."
The state-by-state strategy represents a split from the course pursued by Heritage Action for America and its sister organization, Heritage Foundation....
The Supreme Court's ruling that states can opt out of Medicaid expansion has become a fundamental weakness of Obamacare; another weakness is the optional nature of state-run health health exchanges. Both give governors and state legislators too much power over implementation -- and we know from the gun control and gay marriage fights that it's relatively easy to punish state legislators and elected state judges who deviate from conservative correctness on hot-button issues.
But a bigger weakness is the fact that everyone isn't an Obamacare beneficiary, which means it's easy for the right to say that Obamacare is a liberal plot to tax "us" to give a benefit to "them." (Yes, obviously any one of "us" could lose employer-based health coverage at any time and become one of "them," but right-wingers never think that way.)
I know, I know -- we're not getting single payer anytime soon. That's why I support Obamacare. But I'm not under the illusion that the right will ever accept it or stop fighting it, any more than the right ever stops fighting abortion rights or gun control or the teaching of evolution in public schools. I really believe we'll battle over Obamacare forever. If the haters can't kill it, they'll never stop trying of chip pieces off it.