ACTIVISM WORKS

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Senate Health Care Bill did not pass. It’s not clear what Republicans will try next but it is clear that engaged citizens can and do make a difference. We can’t promise it will always work. But we can see that voter resistance can force a change of course. So when Trump and McConnell and Ryan cook up their next nasty “tax cut masquerading as healthcare” stew, you’ll know just what to do.

Josh Marshall has what I think is the best explanation of why the Republican plan to repeal the ACA has come such a cropper. First he acknowledges the vital role played by how unpopular the various versions of the legislation were and the equally vital played by “the huge and sustained nationwide activism against Trumpcare.” The deeper driver at work, though, is this:

At the outset of Obamacare’s post-legislative history, Republicans were for repeal. Then repeal became ‘Repeal and Replace’, a tacit but highly significant concession that the 2009 status quo ante was not acceptable. Over time, Repeal and Replace got gussied up with claims that the replacement for Obamacare would be better than Obamacare. There was a good deal of vagueness and mendacity packaged into this messaging. But the critical thing was that in the process of evolving from ‘Repeal’ to ‘Repeal and Replace’, Republicans made a tacit concession that those who had gained coverage under Obamacare should in fact have coverage. It was just that Obamacare did it in a flawed way and Obamacare’s replacement would do it better.

The problem, at its core, was that Republicans could not concoct a solution that would maintain coverage for all those who had gained it while their majority wanted deep tax cuts and a sizable portion of their caucus did not understand — or didn’t accept — the basic concession Marshall has exposed.

Meanwhile David Leonhardt’s “A Project to Nourish Your Political Soul” provides a completely different perspective on what progressives can do to start changing the bitter and polarized climate.

The Trump era is coarsening our discourse. Too often recently I have watched people I respect spiral from a political discussion into a nasty, personal argument.

So I have a suggestion. By all means, Trump’s opponents should continue to fight — for health care, civil rights, the climate and truth itself. But there is also a quieter step that’s worth taking no matter your views, for the sake of nourishing your political soul.

Pick an issue that you find complicated, and grapple with it.

Choose one on which you’re legitimately torn or harbor secret doubts. Read up on it. Don’t rush to explain away inconvenient evidence.

Then do something truly radical: Consider changing your mind, at least partially.

I’m going to give it a try.