Writing for National Journal, political scientist (and native Minnesotan) Norm Ornstein tries to provide some philosophical and historical perspective to the ongoing effort by congressional Republicans to sabotage the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and concludes that the strategy is beyond reasonable or respectable conduct for a loyal opposition. An excerpt:
When a law is enacted, representatives who opposed it have some choices (which are not mutually exclusive). They can try to repeal it, which is perfectly acceptable — unless it becomes an effort at grandstanding so overdone that it detracts from other basic responsibilities of governing. They can try to amend it to make it work better — not just perfectly acceptable but desirable, if the goal is to improve a cumbersome law to work better for the betterment of the society and its people. They can strive to make sure that the law does the most for Americans it is intended to serve, including their own constituents, while doing the least damage to the society and the economy. Or they can step aside and leave the burden of implementation to those who supported the law and got it enacted in the first place.
But to do everything possible to undercut and destroy its implementation — which in this case means finding ways to deny coverage to many who lack any health insurance; to keep millions who might be able to get better and cheaper coverage in the dark about their new options; to create disruption for the health providers who are trying to implement the law, including insurers, hospitals, and physicians; to threaten the even greater disruption via a government shutdown or breach of the debt limit in order to blackmail the president into abandoning the law; and to hope to benefit politically from all the resulting turmoil — is simply unacceptable, even contemptible.