The major objection that Democrats seem to have about the prospect that Amy Coney Barrett will fill the vacant seat on the Supreme Court is that she might be open to overturning the Affordable Care Act (ACA, also known as Obamacare) on constitutional grounds.
Setting aside for the moment that a fifth-grader could see why the ACA is unconstitutional¹, what I find interesting is that the Democrats are acting as if the ACA has overwhelming support, when in fact, around half the country cast votes in recent elections for candidates who promised to get rid of it.
And when the ACA was passed back in 2009, it received exactly one Republican vote in the House and none in the Senate. The Democrats had the votes to ram it through, and that’s what they did, acting as if the Republicans weren’t even there. In other words, Democrats passed the ACA with pretty much the opposite of ‘bipartisan support’ — in much the same way that Republicans will confirm Barrett.
All of which is to say, the Democrats started this conflict by completely ignoring the half of the country represented by the Republican party. And now they’re whining because the Republicans are looking to end it using their own strategy against them.
When I look at the two pieces together — ramming through the ACA and then ramming through Barrett’s confirmation — it reminds me of countless movies where a villain loses the upper hand in the second act and then begs for mercy, or fairness, or the chance to turn over a new leaf.
At that point, the audience is often screaming at the screen for the hero not to fall for it. But of course, the hero does fall for it, largely because the movie needs to have a third act.
The ACA doesn’t need a third act.
If there has to be a third act, maybe it would look something like this: The ACA dies, and both major parties learn from the experience, resisting in the future the temptation to use a slight majority to pass far-reaching legislation over the opposition of nearly half the country, just because they think they can get away with it.
But there’s a name for a story like that, right? Fantasy.
¹ Hint: Look at the powers enumerated in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution, and identify one that encompasses the ACA. Bonus: Do the same thing for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.