Have you ever fought a battle you couldn’t win or at the very least the prospects weren’t great? Most everyone who has battled a chronic illness will tell you that it is worth the fight even though the best they can hope for is a draw. When what you are fighting for is precious, the battle is always worth it.
The fight over Obamacare funding initiated by Senators Cruz and Lee is one such fight. In one sense the critics were right; no amount of public opposition to the law, warnings that the exchanges were not ready, objections of unions and small businesses, concerns of doctors, or pending lawsuits could stop the Obamacare juggernaut. The administration is dead set on implementing its namesake law. So why fight?
Because we are worth fighting for! Every ordinary American who faces higher premiums, loss of coverage, diminished privacy, lower work hours, and other consequences of this ill-conceived law is worth the fight. Thank you Senator Cruz and allies for weathering the polls, the chiding of fellow Republicans, and the barrage of childish insults from the Left—Arsonist! Hostage taker! Jihadist! It’s refreshing to see such courage.
The usual conservative strategy goes something like this (as a former congressional staffer, I remember it well): Members give a few speeches quoting research studies on the ill effects of harmful government programs, followed by a symbolic vote or two to convey their opposition. Members then go home and tell their constituents that their hands were tied. Sometime in some distant future when they have more power, they’ll actually be able to do something real. That time never comes. Try to name one Great Society or New Deal entitlement program that has ever been repealed.
Presumably the speech, symbolic vote, go home strategy was the plan before Senators Cruz and Lee decided to fight back. While the partial shutdown, the 18th in the past four decades, will not immediately put an end to Obamacare, it has yielded some positive results. It exposed the administration’s willingness to use power for political gain. The public watched as liberal protesters gained access to the National Mall while World War II veterans had to struggle to visit their own monument. Army base grocery stores have stayed closed while Andrews Air Force golf course has been open. Scenic views, parking lots, and playgrounds have been senselessly barricaded.
If only the administration had put that much energy into getting its healthcare portal to work. The system is riddled with technical problems and yet Americans are still expected to comply. Even liberal comedian Jon Stewart couldn’t help asking Kathleen Sebelius why individuals couldn’t get the same break the administration gave big business—a one year delay.
Meanwhile people are discovering that the Affordable Care Act is making their health care premiums less affordable. A friend who previously supported President Obama and his health care law recently posted this on Facebook, "Just got off the phone with my Kaiser Insurance people. My individual plan is automatically cancelled as of year end. If I want to purchase it through the Health Care Reform marketplace, I will now pay almost $100 more per month for less coverage. I am healthy, no medical problems and now I was told that it has to be EQUAL for all so I am paying for those who choose to have unhealthy lifestyles. Not only that, all of my children's premium are going up too. This was not the original idea. It was called AFFORDABLE health care plan. What happened?"
As Obamacare continues to complicate Americans’ lives, many will remember that there were a few Members of Congress who tried to stop it. The grassroots will help jog their memories next year. Senator Cruz and allies’ willingness to fight back has galvanized the grassroots. We’re the ones—the small business owners, independent contractors, and working families—who hurt the most when premiums go up and work hours go down. We know that fighting back is a harder road and that there are political risks. Still we would prefer sailing close to the wind. Too much is at stake to stay safely at dock.