When a pro football team disappoints its fans, most of them are back in their stadium seats or chained to their televisions the following Sunday. For the most part, sports fans mate for life, and so they rarely abandon their fealty to their team, regardless of how often it craps the bed. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this fan-franchise relationship because, win or lose, the outcome of sports competitions don’t really precipitate any serious consequences to society outside the fate of the players and staff. In other words, if your team loses, no one loses his or her health care or is sent off to war. No one goes broke and the world continues on its normal orbit around the Sun.
Unfortunately, too many Americans continue to remain loyal to President Donald Trump and his team of Russian assets and infighting goons. This toxic dynamic has careened beyond normal party identification to a degree of unwavering loyalty Americans would otherwise reserve for their favorite sports teams. In this case, no matter how ridiculous Trump gets, they’re still there — chanting “lock her up” while dressed in Trump swag festooned with “Make America great again” logos.
While there’s superfandom on both sides of the political divide, the Trump superfans are legion, and they’re utterly blind to their guy’s incompetence and childishness, as evidenced by the reality that 96 percent of them surveyed in a new poll don’t regret their vote, even after a bottomless well of unforgivable gaffes and international blunders.
Likewise, polling shows that GOP voters have entirely changed their views on key issues based on whether the president involved was named Barack Obama or Donald Trump. Concerning the U.S. cruise missile strike against Syria last month, for example, 86 percent of Republicans surveyed showed they supported the attack under Trump, while only 22 percent of Republicans polled said they backed doing so under Obama. Nothing changed except the name (and the race) of the guy seated at the Resolute Desk. By the way, Democratic voters' support for the strike remained exactly the same, regardless of who the president was. Obviously the franchise loyalty of GOP voters is significantly more entrenched.
We also can’t overlook the intellectual dishonesty and rank ignorance in the equation here. Republican voters simply don’t understand, nor do they want to, how their brand Trump fandom could be extraordinarily bad for their bank accounts and, more specifically, their personal survival.
Last Saturday night Trump chickened out of the annual White House Correspondents' Dinner and, instead, flew to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to nuzzle in the ample collective bosom of his fans. During the event Trump performed his greatest hits, including his usual catchphrases and zingers about repealing and replacing Obamacare. Predictably, his fans went nuts — lapsing into the throes of a group orgasm over the prospect of sticking it to liberals.
The problem for the Trumpers cheering for replacing Obamacare is this: More than half of all the Americans who bought insurance policies through the Affordable Care Act exchanges live in Republican-dominated districts. That’s 6.3 million Americans in GOP-leaning districts who are “on Obamacare” out of a total of 11.5 million enrollees total, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Repealing Obamacare would also disproportionately hurt rural Americans, members of a key Trump demographic group. And low-income families, that by a narrow majority voted for Trump, would be clobbered by the increasingly rapid phasing out of the Medicaid expansion. There’s no opt-out language for Trump voters. Sorry.
Yet a majority of Republicans surveyed, about 54 percent, think it was a “bad thing” that Trumpcare failed (so far). Astonishingly, 58 percent of Republicans polled said Trumpcare doesn’t go far enough to repeal Obamacare. It's staggering and incomprehensible that their cultlike devotion to Trump overrules concerns about their personal health and well-being.
Again, it’s fair to ask whether they’re willingly misinformed about the law. What we know about Trumpcare is that it could very well pass the House any second now. We also know that something called the MacArthur amendment would allow states to opt out of mandating that insurers cover people with pre-existing conditions, potentially shoving sick or injured patients (including Republican ones) into high-risk pools with crappy insurance policies. Worse, Trumpcare also removes caps on premiums for high-risk consumers, practically guaranteeing that they’ll be forced to drop their insurance coverage or sink deeply into debt. In other words, they’ll lose coverage because the high-risk premiums and deductibles will skyrocket in price well beyond affordability, returning us to the pre-Obamacare climate of unfair gauging and usury.
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Guess which states will most likely opt out of covering pre-existing conditions and essential health benefits. Hint: It won’t be New York or California or Vermont. Think red.
Part of the disconnect between the Trumpers' support for repealing Obamacare and concurrently their reliance on the law's benefits, regardless of whether insurance is attained via the exchanges or employers, is that Trump himself has displayed no real knowledge about what’s in the law. Either that or he’s aware of the law’s details but is simply lying when he repeatedly pledges that more people will be covered and premiums will be lower. Indeed, per the Congressional Budget Office, more people would be covered if the Obamacare exchanges collapse than if Trumpcare should pass. But if you ask Trump, the deal is very, very tremendous and everyone will love it.
One last thing: Clearly based on what I’ve written here lately, I’m done with walking on eggshells around Trump voters and their low-information nincompoopery. Sorry, "Morning Joe." For the second time in 17 years, we’ve been burdened with a poorly informed, intellectually violent president, elected by easily deceived voters who believe anything their favorite political-sports heroes say. It’s time to champion smartness again in America. It’s time to get ballsy about general knowledge — about expertise, science, history, literature, art and civics. It’s time to make America smart again.
This isn’t a game.