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Obamacare’s Inept Rollout Reveals What Makes Us American (Forbes.com) November 26, 2013

Posted by daviddavenport in Newspaper Columns/Essays, Op/Eds.
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Former British Prime Minister Harold Wilson famously said, “A week in politics is a long time.”  How right he was.  A couple of weeks ago, Republicans were dead in the water because of the foolish government shutdown.  Now they have been resurrected by the ineptness of the Obamacare implementation and the Democrats are on the political ropes.

But conservatives could take longer-term advantage of a rare political opportunity afforded by the Affordable Care Act:  suddenly the average American, including millions of young Americans, has found out how it feels when the government takes away your liberty.  By declaring millions of health insurance policies illegal for not satisfying the particularized standards of the ACA, the federal government has deprived Americans of all ages of something very tangible that they valued, namely the health insurance policy that was meeting their needs.  In a moment of time, millions of Americans have learned what it means to lose your liberty, the freedom to continue to own the insurance policy you possessed and liked, to government over-regulation.

Just ask Steve Goldsberry of California, whose old policy is now illegal and the new replacement being offered will cost $6000 more.  Calling it a $6000 tax, Mr. Goldsberry understands that this is about liberty and choice:  “I had insurance that was adequate.  I got to choose.  Now I no longer have a choice.”  Pharmacist Cherie Nash-Smith says she will pay the penalty, if she has to, “if politicians keep shoving their health plan vision down my throat.”  Go to the website “mycancellation.com” and read some of the hundreds of letters angry Americans have shared.  The point is that the response is not just about incompetence or expense, it’s about having their right to choose, their liberty, taken away from them.

This is an important moment for modern American conservatism because personal liberty, which has always been the heart of the conservative philosophy, no longer resonates to so many Americans.  Liberty has become an abstraction, an ideal that is not real to twenty-first century Americans.  It seems especially foreign to younger people who have grown up knowing only big government and not appreciating the challenge it creates to liberty.  In a Pew Foundation poll last year asking whether more government was needed to address the problems facing our country, every age group but one said no.  But those under 30 said yes, we need big government to solve our problems.

So when government overreaches, conservatives need to connect that to a loss of personal liberty.  When Mayor Bloomberg wants to tell you what size soda you may purchase, it is not only silly, and ultimately according to a court unconstitutional, but it is a real example of how big government regulation infringes on personal liberty.   And that’s what Obamacare care has provided on a grand scale:  millions of Americans angry at government regulation taking away not just their insurance policy but their freedom to decide what policy to have.  Couples with no children are losing their insurance because it does not provide infant pediatric and dental coverage which they do not need.  Young males can’t keep their present policies because they do not have maternity coverage they don’t need.

Obamacare has become an unplanned national teach-in on government over-regulation and the loss of personal liberty.  I love the young woman quoted in the Los AngelesTimes who, after discovering a dramatic increase in her own health insurance rates, said:  “I was all for Obamacare until I learned I was paying for it.”  Yes, there are many lessons to be learned here.  Conservatives would be wise to stand aside and let the Obamacare implementation disaster unfold on its own, but they would also do well to connect the public anger to their core message of government overreach and the loss of personal liberty.

Link to Forbes.com op/ed:  http://www.forbes.com/sites/daviddavenport/2013/11/26/obamacares-inept-rollout-reveals-what-makes-us-american/

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