Swamp Rabbit swam two laps around the swamp then dragged himself onto the porch, where I was commenting on the virtual secessionists who are still fighting Obamacare, a.k.a. the Affordable Care Act.
“I can’t get my head around this one,” I said. “Obamacare is a piece of shit compared to single-payer insurance, but it would cover hundreds of thousands of poor people in Virginia alone. If Virginia allowed for Medicaid expansion, the state would save $135 million a year. But these Republican yahoos would rather see poor people die than see them get health insurance.”
I read to him from ThinkProgress:
The GOP’s refusal to fully implement the Affordable Care Act will leave more than half of the nation’s uninsured working poor, approximately 8 million people, without access to health insurance. The 26 GOP-controlled states not participating in the law’s Medicaid expansion are home to a disproportionate share of low-income Americans who aren’t poor enough to qualify for the existing Medicaid program and make too much to be eligible for subsidies in the ACA’s insurance marketplaces.
The rabbit hadn’t yet caught his breath. His new swimming workout is to wean him off Wild Turkey, but every time he starts to shape up, he goes out and buys another bottle.
“It’s the morons-or-monsters question again,” I continued. “Do the yahoos in the green shirts with the anti-health insurance fliers know they’re doing something rotten, or are they being duped by Americans for Prosperity, the front group for the Koch brothers?”
I told him my favorite Americans for Prosperity argument: People on Medicaid tend to be sicker than uninsured people, therefore Medicaid expansion is bad. The yahoos skip right past the fact that, as Paul Krugman wrote, “Sick people are likely to have low incomes; more generally, low-income Americans who qualify for Medicaid just tend in general to have poor health.”
“Do the yahoos who aren’t rich really not know they’re being duped?” I repeated.
The grungy old hare rolled over and heaved into the swamp. “Yeah, they really don’t know,” he said. Then he quoted Karl Marx, who’s supposed to be one of his pet hates:
The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas — i.e., the class which is the ruling material force of society is at the same time its ruling intellectual force.
“It ain’t about what the rank-and-file yahoos want,” the rabbit explained. “It’s about what the Koch brothers and them other billionaires want. They own the companies that own the mainstream media and so on. They know how to scare the rank-and-file yahoos into thinking Obamacare is a socialist plot.”
“But Obamacare is a capitalist plot. It makes the health insurance companies even richer.”
“If it helps poor people, it’s socialist,” he said. “That’s one of the ruling ideas. If the ruling yahoos let others ideas catch on, they might not be ruling no more. That’s why they start fights between blacks and whites, and between them that’s poor and them that’s almost poor.”
I said, “But this is terrible, swamp rabbit. These rich yahoos are fascists. What’ll we do?”
“Do what you like,” he said, “I’m gonna get me another bottle.”
Footnote: Merriam-Webster defines “yahoo” as “a boorish, crass, or stupid person.” The online dictionary has “crude, brutish, or obscenely coarse.” Jonathan Swift, the inventor of the word, used yahoo as a synonym for human, although he didn’t seem to hate all humans equally. At one point in Gulliver’s Travels, Gulliver describes life back in England, where “the bulk of our people were forced to live miserably, by laboring every day for small wages to make a few live plentifully.”