The imminent debate on healthcare

November 22, 2008

Despite the fact that I disagree with about 90% of what he says, I enjoy reading Steve Brenan’s ‘Political Animal’ blog over at Washington Monthly.  Today, he put up a post regarding conservative’s fears about Democrats passing universal healthcare.  He makes some good points, and cites conservatives to back them up.  Basically, the argument is that if Democrats manage to give everyone healthcare, the public will reward them for that.  Well, there’s not much to argue there, but does that mean that universal healthcare is good public policy?

It goes back to what I’ve referenced a few times already.  Just because something is emotionally appealing to the American people doesn’t mean that it’s good policy.  The public would certainly reward Democrats, but I would argue that the passage of universal healthcare would most certainly not be the death of conservatism.  Politically, liberals would surely benefit in the short term.  However, conservatives need to have a bit more faith in their ideas.  We argue constantly that universal healthcare would fail miserably because of high costs to the taxpayer, long waiting lists, etc.  If we truly believe that, then what are we so afraid of?

If the Democrats manage to pass universal healthcare (which we should certainly try to prevent from happening), it would be a teaching moment for America.  Conservatives too often concede the moral high ground once some socialist element has been injected into our government.  Take public welfare, for example.  When is the last time you heard a prominent conservative say that we should do away with the entire system and return to a private charity model?  No, they concede it as a necessary evil and the game is lost before it’s begun.

Should Democrats pass universal healthcare, we must remain loyal opposition to the concept entirely.  We must monitor it’s every step and point out every flaw and negative consequence.  Rather than concede that it’s something we have to have only that it was implemented wrong or some other such nonsense, we must consistently and repeatedly oppose the core ideas behind universal healthcare.  Unfortunately, if history is any indicator, all of our politicians will move a little further to the left and we’ll sink further down this hole.