This is it. The battle over Trumpcare (and the fact that the White House doesn’t want you to call it that is all the more reason to do so) is the mother of all battles. If you want to resist Donald Trump, now is the time and this is the place. Progressives need to harness the energy demonstrated by the people who took to the streets—not to mention airports—to express their opposition to Trump’s agenda.
There are a lot of us. The Women’s March drew at least three times more people to Washington, DC—even though they were also held all over the country on the same day—than did the inauguration of popular vote loser Donald Trump. Counting all locations, the Women’s March appears to have been our country’s largest single day protest ever. The long-term success of those marches will be measured in terms of increased engagement with the political process, because it is through politics—i.e., pressuring elected officials and, ultimately, winning elections—that progressives can stop Donald Trump right now.
First of all, stopping Trump from gutting of the Affordable Care Act is vital, and separate from any larger political impact. The change from Obamacare to Trumpcare would directly harm millions of Americans, in particular women and those living below the median income level, the latter of which are disproportionately Americans of color. To cite one element, Trumpcare’s defunding of Planned Parenthood and its broader treatment of the abortion issue represent a frontal assault on women’s reproductive rights. This is an issue that cuts across lines of race, class, and gender. Talk about intersectionality.
Additionally, Trumpcare also would significantly increase the cost of health insurance for large numbers of white, working-class Trump voters, as Chris Hayes pointed out. The net result of Trumpcare would be a huge sucking sound, pulling money away from middle- and working-class Americans and shifting it to the top 1 to 2 percent. A recent Quinnipiac poll found that the overwhelming majority of Americans oppose on tax cuts for the rich—including an almost 3 to 1 majority of whites without a college degree, and even a slender majority of Republicans as a whole.
But what about the larger political impact of defeating Trumpcare? It would be, in a word, monumental. Trump and the entire Republican Party have spent years promising to repeal Obamacare. Now they have the ability to do it. In fact, they even passed a repeal bill in January 2016—one that included defunding Planned Parenthood, mind you.
They could just pass the same bill right now and instead of the veto it got from President Obama, it would become law—thanks to the election of a guy who lost the popular vote by 3 million. If Trump and the Republicans fail, they will have no excuse, and a significant portion of their base will go bonkers. Disappointing your base is not how you win mid-term elections.
Furthermore, Trump’s appeal, such as it is, derives in part from the perception that he can ‘get things done.’ That’s why Kellyanne Conway has been selling him as, in her words, “President Action, President Impact, Donald J. Trump.” As you contemplate that turn of phrase, allow me to mention that 100 percent of the proceeds from sales of these specific Trump Action Figures go to the ACLU.
But seriously, he needs to get Trumpcare done if only to show that he can actually pass major legislation of any kind. If we can stop it, we will have grievously weakened his presidency. Doing so will reduce the havoc Trump can wreak on countless other issues—from immigration to the tax code to the environment, not to mention the budget that funds, well, everything the government does.
Conservatives and radicals—there really aren’t enough moderate Republicans left to be worth mentioning—will be at each other’s throats. The fact that Obamacare is significantly more popular than it was a year ago—going from an approval rating of negative 5 points to positive 5 points—isn’t helping the repeal efforts. Failure will breed dissension and more defeat down the road.
Some progressives may place a higher priority on issues other than health care. Furthermore, Obamacare is not perfect. Many—myself included—would have preferred health care reform that included a public option, or even Medicare for all or another single-payer approach to health coverage.
If you fall into either or both categories, I am urging you, please, to set your misgivings aside and throw your energies into the effort to defeat Trumpcare because doing so is the single most effective way you can resist Trump’s overall agenda. This is still a democracy, which means we can make our voices heard. How? The Center for American Progress has the specifics:
After seven years of promising to repeal the “disaster” of the Affordable Care Act, Republican leaders have finally come up with a plan. But now, they are trying to sneak through their repeal plan in secret. Why? Because people like you have shown up at town halls and congressional offices across the country to say loud and clear that you oppose Republican plans that will take health care away from millions of people and give tax breaks to the rich.
But here’s the truth: The Republican health care plan will increase health care costs for the average person by $1,500 a year. And that number is even worse for older Americans.
Here’s what you can do:
- Call your member of Congress at (202) 224-3121 or visit a local district office and demand Republicans show us their health care bill.
- Starting [March 8], follow @CAPAction as we hold members accountable for putting forward policies that directly hurt their constituents.
- Share your story! Are you one of the millions who would be impacted by repeal of the Affordable Care Act? Share your story at ACAWorks.org.
- Go to ResistanceNearMe.org to find an event near you to protest the GOP’s repeal bill.
We can vote Trump out in 2020. We can retake the Senate—and hopefully stop him from reshaping the Supreme Court for a generation—in 2018. Defeating Trumpcare is the first step. Resistance is definitely not futile. We need everyone on board for this one.
Ian Reifowitz is the author of Obama’s America: A Transformative Vision of Our National Identity (Potomac Books).