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October 09, 2013 3:46 PM The Obamacare Tipping Point

By Ed Kilgore

If you want to understand why Obamacare became the initial target of the conservative movement’s radical effort to demand major policy concessions as the price of keeping the government operating and avoiding a debt default, look no further than Stan Greenberg’s focus groups of Republicans he’s been convening on behalf of Democracy Corp. This material is fascinating on a broad range of issues, and one could take some exception to Stan’s GOP typology which divides the most conservative Republicans into Tea Party advocates and evangelicals. But on issue after issue, the focus groups confirm that both these conservative factions share a deep belief in the idea that Barack Obama and the Democratic Party are engaged in a very conscious effort to seduce a majority of voters—beginning, of course, with minorities—into supporting a “socialist” expansion of government that is already on the very edge of being self-perpetuating and ultimately totalitarian. And they see Obamacare—along with legalization of undocumented workers, which conservatives managed to stall before initiating their “Defund Obamacare” crusade— as quite probably the tipping point.

[The argument against Obamacare that] is the most important and elicits the most passions among Evangelicals and Tea Party Republicans—that big government is meant to create rights and dependency and electoral support from mostly minorities who will reward the Democratic Party with their votes. The Democratic Party exists to create programs and dependency—the food stamp hammock, entitlements, the 47 percent. And on the horizon—comprehensive immigration reform and Obamacare. Citizenship for 12 million and tens of millions getting free health care is the end of the road.

The end of the road. That’s pretty scary, eh?

Now the idea that the GOP and its policy preferences faces a demographic death threat down the road is pretty common; Jonathan Chait wrote eloquently last year of the very realistic fear that 2012 was a “last chance election” for conservative politics before it’s inevitably swept away by the dusky hordes and uppity women and gays who don’t like the white patriarchy that made America great. But what Greenberg is finding is a fear that is a lot more intense and immediate and is generating frantic efforts to use every tool available within and beyond the Constitution to stop the national lurch into some sort of amalgam of all the evils of continents other than our own. What’s a little government shutdown of services mainly benefitting those people or even a debt default that mostly punishes those people (and their president) as compared to the loss of America’s productive capacity or perhaps even its soul? Not much.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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