Like most Democrats, I’m still in profound shock from the election results. But after election night, the damnedest thing happened: The sun came up Wednesday morning. I looked around: My dog still loved me and my wife still put up with me. We still had our family, our home and our friends.Our lives had not completely disintegrated upon the election of Donald J. Trump. I appreciate that, like the overwhelming majority of Americans, we’re not going to feel an immediate or dramatic impact. At the same time, I am very aware that there are millions who will be directly affected, or at least feel threatened. And I’m quite aware of the ominous longer term possibilities.
I’ve spent a lot of the last few days comforting family members, friends, and many of my students who were feeling traumatized. And in comforting them, I’ve realized that I have a small sliver of hope about our future. Perhaps it’s pure naïveté, but I have hope that there’s at least one person in the Republican leadership with a bit of common sense. And I hope this person will be able to slow the knee-jerk agenda of the alt-right or the Freedom Caucus. I hope they’ll be listened to when they say, “Wait a minute! Let’s think about this for a minute before we jump.”
For example: Number One on the Trump Hit Parade is the Affordable Care Act — “Obamacare!” The legislation was passed in 2009 with very active participation by Republicans in the Senate and House. In fact, it contains 161 Republican amendments, although every single Republican then voted against it and immediately started complaining about being locked out of the process.
But I hope to hear that reasonable voice saying: “I know we’ve voted 62 times to repeal Obamacare. But, if we actually repeal it now, it will be gone. And we know if we do repeal it, 20-million Americans will immediately lose their healthcare. Millions more people with pre-existing medical conditions, who couldn’t be denied coverage under Obamacare, will lose their insurance. Millions of young people who’ve been able to stay on their family’s health insurance until they’re 26 are going to be out of luck. We need to ask ourselves: Are we willing to take responsibility for all that? Are we willing to take the heat?”
Republican leaders also know they really don’t have any kind of alternative. “Repeal and replace” just means going back to the way things used to be. And I hope that reasonable voice will say, “Wait a minute. I know we’ve said that if we just let companies sell healthcare insurance across state lines, it will fix all the problems. But we need to remember that state governments regulate healthcare insurance companies, not the federal government. Are we seriously going to tell the public that we’re taking that authority away from states and sending it to Washington? Really?”
I admit it may be pure fantasy to believe that there is such common-sense voice in the Republican Party who would dare to speak up; someone who would be listened to. But then, I still believe in world peace and maybe even Santa Claus. So, I’m holding out hope…just a little.
Dave Helfert has been a political and governmental communicator for more than 30 years, writing speeches for elected officials and candidates, creating media in more than 200 political campaigns, working for six years as a Communications Director in the Clinton Administration and then nine years in the U.S. House.
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