Stubborn opposition from both parties left the House Republicans with no other option but to pull back their Obamacare replacement bill. At the 9 pm news on Saturday, Fox News commentator called for the resignation of House Speaker, Paul Ryan from his position after failing to mobilize enough support to pass the healthcare bill.
Despite a bipartisan criticism, Trump had earlier declared the bill ‘wonderful.’ The defeat was obviously a blow to the Republicans bearing in mind that Obamacare alternative is one of Trump’s signature campaign promises. Ryan has come under heavy criticism by pro-Trump voices for the failed bill since its introduction to the house three weeks ago.
Just as it was Ryan’s responsibility to create a suitable replacement for Obamacare, it was his responsibility to make sure he had the votes. He did neither. It’s easy to blame the Freedom Caucus, but (to my knowledge) not a single reputable conservative organization supported this bill—nor did the American people or even Republican voters. Putting the blame on a few conservative lawmakers essentially asks them to support a bill they couldn’t honestly defend.
Part of the reason the GOP got handed the keys to the car was because we were told letting Democrats continue to legislate would be a disaster. Maybe that’s still true. Regardless, after entrusting Republicans with fixing our nation’s healthcare crisis, what’d they do? Despite years of proclaiming itself as a party of ideas and solutions, the GOP wet its pants like a nervous elementary school student on the first day of classes.
We’re now told we have to just wait for the current system to collapse and trust that next time, when things are really bad, when the stakes are even higher, when there’s no alternative but an abject collapse of our entire healthcare system, the Republicans will finally rescue us. Only after the meteor hits, can we trust the rest of Congress to look towards Ryan and see his genius.
There’s a strange existential angle hidden within this entire debacle. What’s the purpose of a political movement that simultaneously wins elections, yet can’t effectively govern? How does one face such a contradiction? Ryan spent the last seven years begging for this opportunity, perfecting PowerPoint presentations, winning the affections of donors who crowned him the party’s wunderkind, happily nodding at his party’s proclamations of “repeal and replace.” When he was finally given the opportunity to fulfill his telos, his very purpose as a politician, he failed in a blink of an eye.
And speaking of the existential angles, the worst part of this week is we’re reminded that there’s still no better alternative than Ryan. Grassroots activists and Trump loyalists aren’t floating any serious alternatives for speaker, and it’s pointless to have a massive fight within the rest of the party in hopes that there’s a more competent congressman out there who can get bills passed. We’re stuck with the guy and all the despair that comes along with it.
I’m hard-pressed to find any chain of events that better encapsulates this country’s malaise. The status quo isn’t working, and the people in charge of providing an alternative can’t remotely articulate one—never mind actually implement it. The elites in charge can’t fix the mess created by the other group of elites who screwed everything up. Our politics have been broken for a long time, but we just got a new face for it all: Paul Ryan.