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December 06, 2013 10:10 AM Rick Santorum, Africanist

By Ryan Cooper

Mainstream media appropriating Mandela as a nice fuzzy uncontroversial touchstone is one thing. But this is something else entirely (h/t Adam Peck):

Here’s the relevant quote:

Nelson Mandela…was fighting against a great injustice. I would make the argument that we have a great injustice going on right now in this country with an ever increasing size of government that is taking over and controlling people’s lives, and Obamacare is front and center in that.

Implying that a market-based overhaul of the healthcare system is equivalent in some way to institutionalized racial oppression overseen by a police state (run for 12 years by a Nazi sympathizer) is grotesque. In fact, like any proper democratic socialist, Mandela made sure a right to health care was in the South African constitution. And as Peck points out, two years ago South Africa began implementing its own universal healthcare system, which shares many similarities with Obamacare, most notably a contribution mandate to the new system:

“If you earn above a certain income you will be required by law to make a contribution to the NHI Fund. It will not be possible to opt out of this responsibility,” [Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi] said.

But what is most striking about this exchange is that Rick Santorum seems to actually believe what he is saying. I’m coming to believe that Greg Sargent is right: Obamacare could well be a liability in 2014—for Republicans.

Ryan Cooper is a National Correspondent at The Week, and a former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @ryanlcooper

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