The Spectacle Blog

Could the Obamacare Debacle End the Left’s Compassion Monopoly?

By on 10.29.13 | 10:46AM

If there’s one ironclad mainstream media truth, it’s this: The Democratic Party is the party of compassion, while the Republican Party is the party of business. Or, to put it in ideological terms, the left is compassionate while the right is heartless, concerned mainly with making and keeping money.

George W. Bush illustrated the enduring power of this myth when, during his first run for president, he adopted the phrase “compassionate conservatism” to distance himself from conservatism’s (thoroughly unfair) public reputation.

Ask any college conservative and they’ll tell you about the slander directed at the right—how conservatives don’t care about the poor, minorities, or injustice and oppression. (As if the only way to measure “compassion” is by writing large checks drawn from other people’s bank accounts to fund social programs that don’t work.)

I just came from an event where I was with a former advisor to President Bush (43). He described a meeting with the leadership of a left-wing organization that advocates for disabled Americans. During the meeting they advised him that while President Bush was doing far more for the disabled than previous Democratic administrations, they couldn’t publicly say that because “the Democrats are our advocates.”

It’s obvious, then, why the myth of the compassionate left vs. the heartless right endures, and has for decades. But could the unfolding disaster of Obamacare put a dent in the Democrats’ armor of compassion? 

Consider that the Democratic Party is the party that is currently (and inflexibly) warns that you will be punished and fined if you don’t purchase health insurance, yet has put forward a website that won’t let you make the purchase.

Consider that this is the party that, after promising “affordable” health insurance (that’s the “A” in ACA), is presiding over a program that in state after state is giving people less insurance for more money with less choice. Gone are the days when a family could pick the plan that works best for them. Buy an Obamacare-compliant policy or be fined.

Consider that this is the party not only presiding over a broken website and bureaucratic nightmare, but is also responsible for more canceled insurance policies than new sign-ups. Last weekend, NBC News reported 460,000 insurance cancellations in just two states: California and Florida. In the meantime, even the most generous estimates of new Obamacare insurance policies puts the number between 30,000 and 50,000—an order of magnitude lower than the losses.

These failures are not distant and theoretical. They are impacting Americans in the most important arena of their lives—their personal health.

Can the “party of compassion” retain its title when its most significant policy innovation since the War on Poverty (an incredible failure, but that’s a story for a different time) has succeeded mainly in increasing health-related insecurity, causing people to lose jobs or have their hours cut back, and fostering real fear in individuals and families from coast to coast?

Perceptions can endure—often much longer than they should—but, as they say, in the end facts are stubborn things and reality gets a vote. And for the Obama administration, the reality of the Affordable Care Act is insurance that isn’t affordable, provides much less care, and is punishing average American citizens all across the country.

There’s nothing compassionate about that.

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