Donald Trump and his supporters may be waging battles against the press, immigrants, voting rights, the environment, science, social welfare programs, Planned Parenthood and what they label political correctness and the deep state.
But to them these are mere skirmishes in a much larger conflict. The president has essentially declared an all-out war on the American 1960s.
How did it come to pass that of the two political parties, the Democrats — who have long fought for the underdog, civil rights, consumer protections, universal health care, the minimum wage and for unions against powerful interests that try to crush them — have now been branded in large swaths of the country as the party of the establishment and the elites?
Hark back to the original populists of the 1890s and they saw themselves exactly the same way, as champions of common Americans left behind by distant, powerful interests that were driving — and profiting from — economic dislocation and change.
These populists channeled the fears and frustrations of Southern and Midwestern farmers who were straining to keep up in an increasingly industrialized and national economy — and growing more and more resentful toward an emerging modern culture that no longer venerated the yeomen and instead celebrated the captains of industry.
If the human brain’s positive bias toward attractive people didn’t cue me to infer that Thune is a great guy, a real straight shooter, I’d be as outraged by the assault on Americans’ health that Thune and his co-conspirators are currently waging, and by the subversion of American democracy they’re using to ram it through, as I am when its public face is McConnell’s.
Congressional fireworks over health insurance legislation may ultimately seem a minor footnote compared to a subtle, but seismic shift toward something reformers have long yearned for–one-stop shopping.
The idea is to combine insurance, where the economic incentive is to spend as little as possible on care, with medicine, where money’s to be made by providing maximum treatments. One such iteration is a health maintenance organization, like Kaiser Permanente, which Washington has been relentlessly pushing a resisting system toward since the Nixon Administration.