Paul Krugman sees no good coming from where we’re going with the Republicans trying to run the table.
The midterm elections were, to an important extent, a referendum on the Affordable Care Act; health care, not Donald Trump, dominated Democratic campaigning. And voters delivered a clear verdict: They want Obamacare’s achievements, the way it expanded coverage to roughly 20 million people who would otherwise have been uninsured, to be sustained.
But on Friday, Reed O’Connor, a partisan Republican judge known for “weaponizing” his judicial power, declared the A.C.A. as a whole — protection for pre-existing conditions, subsidies to help families afford coverage, and the Medicaid expansion — unconstitutional. Legal experts from both right and left ridiculed his reasoning and described his ruling as “raw political activism.” And that ruling probably won’t be sustained by higher courts.
But don’t be too sure that his sabotage will be overturned. O’Connor’s abuse of power may be unusually crude, but that sort of behavior is becoming increasingly common. And it’s not just health care, nor is it just the courts. What Nancy Pelosi called the “monstrous endgame” of the Republican assault on health care is just the leading edge of an attack on multiple fronts, as the G.O.P. tries to overturn the will of the voters and undermine democracy in general.
So how do people who think and behave this way respond when the public rejects their agenda? They attempt to use their power to overrule the democratic process. When Democrats threaten to win elections, they rig the voting process, as they did in Georgia. When Democrats win despite election rigging, they strip the offices Democrats win of power, as they did in Wisconsin. When Democratic policies prevail despite all of that, they use apparatchik-stuffed courts to strike down legislation on the flimsiest of grounds.
This has been going on for a lot longer than just since Trump descended his gold-plated escalator. Trump, like the chancre of syphilis, is merely the outward sign of rot, the manifestation of the inner destruction. It’s been ingrained in our human nature to the point that the Greeks wrote plays about it, as did Shakespeare. It’s usually seen in civilizations where dominance by threat and coercion in the name of God or some monster holds the reins, but now it’s coming ashore here, where the rule of law and the idea of equal rights under the law, once a revolutionary concept, became the norm. Far more than the whispered scares about Bolshevism or Otherism, this coup by manipulation by those who would rather rule than govern is our biggest threat.