Assigning labels to an individual from afar is a tenuous exercise at best, and is often based on false assumptions and mischaracterizations. It is true that abject ignorance is responsible for mislabeling more often than not, and there are quite a few standards that never quite hit the mark, but nevertheless are parroted as if they are absolute truths. Shortly after President Obama was inaugurated, critics on the right immediately began labeling him a Marxist, Socialist, and tyrant based on their perception of his agenda even though his administration was not in full swing. Conservatives typically use the Socialist moniker for any Democratic legislation or agenda even though there is only one Socialized program in America and it is specific to one segment of the population. However, during the healthcare reform debate, teabaggers and hardline conservatives began accusing the President of tyranny, and waving Revolution-era flags warning the government “don’t tread on me” as if President Obama was robbing them of their liberty.
The Supreme Court’s ruling that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional elicited a new round of accusations that American democracy was decimated by tyranny in the form of a government takeover of healthcare, and that Americans were now “governed by a monstrous assault on [their] personal liberty and freedom.” This type of reasoning is fallacious for sure, but the pundits parroting the tyranny meme are influencing a segment of the population whose ignorance and reticence to take the intelligent course of action and actually read the provisions of the law portends that regardless the benefits to every American in the ACA, there will be a contingent of Americans clamoring for insurrection and overthrow of the government.
First it is important to reiterate the meaning of tyranny for the hapless pseudo-patriots who use the term with high frequency and intent to incite rebellion. Tyranny is a government in which a single ruler is vested with absolute power, especially when exercised unjustly or cruelly. For the Americans who slept through high-school government class, a reminder that the legislation was debated for nearly a year, passed both houses of Congress, signed by the President, and affirmed as constitutional by the Supreme Court and it should clear the air of charges of tyranny. The High Court’s ruling and subsequent outrage is another example of conservatives who consider any law they oppose tyrannical, even if it was their idea in the first place. Since tyranny involves unjust or cruel exercises of power, it is worth examining how the ACA is unjust and cruel.
The biggest pseudo-patriot complaint is that the individual mandate will send patriotic “real Americans” to prison for not taking responsibility for their own healthcare costs. According to the ACA’s provisions, a vast majority of Americans will never pay the “tax” for not purchasing healthcare insurance and there are three simple reasons. People uninsured because their coverage is unaffordable are exempted, those who are uninsured and do not file taxes because their incomes are too low are exempted, and those who would encounter “hardship” by paying the penalty are exempted, and in every instance, Americans who do pay taxes will pick up the tab for the uninsured regardless the reason for their exemption. There is even a religious exemption for people who believe medicine is the Devil’s work and an attempt by man to supplant god as the source of healing.
Republicans who consider any source of revenue a violation of god’s law used the court’s decision to rail on President Obama for tyranny in burdening the American people with more unfair taxation, and as usual, their assertions are lies. Grover Norquist said,” it’s now clear that ‘Obamacare’ is all about taxes and it hits everybody, not just rich people.” Sarah Palin claimed “Obama lied to the American people. He said it wasn’t a tax. Obama lies; freedom dies,” and Mormon king of liars Willard Romney said, “Obamacare raises taxes on the American people.” First, President Obama did not call the individual mandate a tax, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts did. Second, Norquist and Romney’s contention that “Obamacare raises taxes on the American people and that it his everybody” belies the Congressional Budget Office estimation that between 1-2% of the population will face the penalty/tax for failing to purchase health insurance. Speaking of unfair taxation, conservatives conveniently omit the tax benefits from the health law for employers and credits to help Americans purchase health insurance that will surpass any penalties 10 to 1, or $686 billion to $55 billion according to the CBO.
Most Americans will have access to affordable health insurance through an employer, exchanges, or public programs, and coupled with the various exemptions for low-income means nearly 98% of the population will not pay any penalty/tax for failing to purchase insurance. The reality is that the only people who will pay the modest penalty are those who can afford, and refuse, to take responsibility for their own healthcare and are addicted to having the rest of the country to pay for their medical treatment.
The individual mandate is a matter of personal responsibility, and it is a perpetual Republican mantra as reason to cut social safety nets and entitlements, except when it is proposed by an African American in the Oval Office. As it stands now, if a person does not have insurance and gets treatment for an injury, illness, or disease, the uncompensated care is paid for by taxpayers and 84% of Americans who can afford and carry healthcare insurance. The President’s health law is not tyranny; it is relief for taxpayers and responsible Americans, and a means to insure 30-million Americans without healthcare insurance.
What is most disconcerting from the “government under Obama is tyrannical sect” is that a majority of the complaints come from Americans who benefit from taxpayer-funded government programs. Americans who never file income tax returns because their incomes are too low, or enjoy receiving earned income credit (free taxpayer money), or use Medicare/Medicaid for childbirth, vaccinations, or emergency room visits are the first to cry foul and complain that the Obama Administration is imposing a prison sentence because they exercise their “god-given constitutional” freedom of living off other Americans’ tax dollars. What is really sad, is that most Americans who pay taxes feel a responsibility to help less-fortunate Americans and then have to listen to the same people complain government is robbing them of their freedom when they will receive free healthcare insurance and never pay a penalty.
Most Americans who learn what the Affordable Care Act entails see the program as a means to acquire healthcare coverage they most likely never could afford, and those who have coverage see the end of predatory providers’ malfeasance in delivering services the consumer pays for. Republicans and their conservative pundits know the health law is not tyranny, but reform the insurance industry has obstructed for sixty years. In fact, the people claiming President Obama is a tyrant cannot cite one example of tyranny except that he is an African American, Socialist, and Marxist. For the record, the only Socialistic program in this country is the Veteran’s Health Administration and it is highly regarded, highly successful, and extremely efficient in providing high-quality healthcare to the nation’s heroes, and under assault from Republicans who voted for Paul Ryan’s budget and Willard Romney who proposes giving Veterans a voucher to purchase insurance, but that is another article.
These cries of tyranny are the result of uneducated and racist Americans who find no genuine reason to oppose the President, and from conservatives who are prone to take advantage of racist sentiments rampant in the population. It is astonishing that this President provided the American people with a sound law to protect their investment in their own healthcare, and he is called a tyrant. The only tyranny Americans have suffered is from an industry that bankrupted millions of infirm citizens and refused to provide treatment for millions more with the blessing and protection of the Republican Party.
One begins to wonder, what is wrong with such a large segment of the population that they are willing to go “revolutionary war” on the government because it provides them with quality affordable healthcare and expects those able to purchase coverage to do so instead of living off the largesse of 84% of Americans who do pay income taxes and purchase health insurance? Now, Republicans are making the general election about repealing the health law to return to the status quo when pre-existing conditions, lifetime limits, and reduced coverage was standard procedure and they are banking on the “Obamacare is tyranny” mantra to carry them to victory. However, they would not take this course of action without the support and racist dispensation of teabaggers and pseudo-patriots who have as much comprehension of tyranny as they do quantum physics. The truth is, there is more intelligence in quanta reaction than all the teabaggers, pseudo-patriots, and hardline conservatives combined, and indicts an entire segment of the population who are not intelligent enough to realize they were just handed a precious gift they label as tyranny.