OFF THE GRID

GOP Gets It: Health Care Reform Is a Revolution

Jul 20, 09 | 9:19 AM   byMichael Wolff
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The Republicans, who for so long have been accusing the Democrats of knowing how to solve problems only with vast, complex, culture-changing programs and bureaucracies, are, once again, accusing them of this—health care will create an intrusive government bureaucracy of unimaginable proportions.

And the Republicans are right.

The Democrats, for so long defensive about their natural inclination to create vast, complex, culture-changing programs and bureaucracies, seem barely able to hide their satisfaction (even as they busily demure about the vastness of their plan and try to shrug off its complexities and sell it as a kinder and gentler bureaucracy).

The Republicans are desperate (so, too, apparently are most governors, Democrat or Republican, who will have to find the money to pay for the new regulations). The Republicans understand what’s at stake: A system, like this, changes everything. As much as the Reagan era of deregulation changed how the nation thought and acted, a new health care system, touching everyone, adjusting routines, behavior, relationships, will change the way we think and act.

It really doesn’t matter if it’s a good plan or not so good: The bigger it is, the less anyone gets blamed for it—there is no accountability.

The Republicans understand this, which is one reason they’ve always been so intent on blocking these big programs. Social Security, Medicare, public schools, the Pentagon, hell, the IRS itself—once such systems exist, there’s no going back, no undoing them.

It’s simple and primal.

The Republicans favor a pitiless, catch-as-catch-can, enterprise system which favors some and savages others. The Democrats prefer an inefficient, sprawling, state-regulated system which dulls the savagery by spreading it more equally across the population.

The Republican system grants Republicans power through the support of its corporate sponsors—as health care becomes an ever-larger part of the economy, the Republicans have received ever-more support. The Democrats' system gives the Democrats power through a bureaucracy that will come to involve as many people as public education.

But it is bigger than that even.

Health care switches the balance from a nation whose biggest influence is the private sector to a nation whose biggest influence is the public sector.

We go from a nation of executives to a nation of bureaucrats.

It’s as profound a shift in national character as you get every few generations.

Of course, the Democrats first have to get their law passed.

More of Newser founder Michael Wolff's articles and commentary can be found at VanityFair.com, where he writes a regular column. He can be emailed at michael@newser.com.


   


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