Last Thursday was "Star Wars" Day and almost 40 years since the release of George Lucas' groundbreaking film. It was also the day that the empire struck back when Republicans in Congress voted to overturn the Affordable Care Act, and by doing so, further imperiling the health and safety of 100 million Americans.
As the Republicans voted to steal away health insurance from the sick, children, pregnant women, the poor, elderly, babies and people with pre-existing medical conditions in order to give millionaires and billionaires like themselves more money, they reportedly played the theme song to the movie "Rocky" and found inspiration from George C. Scott's Oscar-winning performance as Gen. George S. Patton. On one hand, these are just curious details that help to paint a picture of what happened that day in Congress. But they also tell us a great deal about how the Republicans who voted to overturn the Affordable Care Act see themselves in history.
"Rocky" is the fictional story of a pugnacious Italian-American club boxer from Philadelphia who in "the greatest exhibition of guts and stamina in the history of the ring," according to the movie, battles to a draw the heavyweight champion of the world, an African-American named Apollo Creed, on Independence Day in 1976.
Perhaps the Republican millionaires in Congress believe that they are underdogs? Or maybe they have fantasies of running up the stairs at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, as Rocky does in that movie's most iconic scene — although, based on their ages and physical appearance it is doubtful that most of the House Republicans could accomplish that feat without collapsing from exhaustion or a heart attack.
It seems much more likely that the Republicans and President Donald Trump think they are the Great White Hope who knocks out the "arrogant" and "uppity" black interloper, President Barack Obama — to the cheers of their racist public.
If their evocation of "Rocky" is pathetic and humorous, then Republicans' need to draw inspiration from "Patton" is malicious and frightening.
Of course, the comparison is absurd. The real-life Patton commanded the American Third and Seventh Armies in World War II against the Nazis in Europe and North Africa. The Republicans are leading an Ayn Rand, gangster-capitalist, plutocratic-authoritarian crusade against the American people.
Nevertheless, what inspiring quotes did the Republican in Congress look to as they voted to take insurance away from the American people in the name of some perverse and twisted and backward Orwellian Newspeak version of "freedom"? Here are some possibilities.
In the 1970 movie, George C. Scott's version of Patton says:
Now I want you to remember that no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.
Maybe the Republicans believe that they are fighting a war? If so, who is their enemy?
There's also this contender:
Now there's another thing I want you to remember. I don't want to get any messages saying that "we are holding our position." We're not holding anything. Let the Hun do that. We are advancing constantly and we're not interested in holding onto anything except the enemy. We're going to hold onto him by the nose and we're going to kick him in the ass. We're going to kick the hell out of him all the time and we're going to go through him like crap through a goose!
Are the Democrats the enemy? Are Americans who are sick the enemy? If you have a pre-existing condition and need affordable medical care, are the Republicans going to "kick the hell" out of you?
Any mention of Scott's role as Patton would have to include this oft-referenced speech from the beginning of the film:
Men, all this stuff you've heard about America not wanting to fight, wanting to stay out of the war, is a lot of horse dung. Americans traditionally love to fight. All real Americans love the sting of battle. When you were kids, you all admired the champion marble shooter, the fastest runner, big league ballplayers, the toughest boxers. Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser. Americans play to win all the time. I wouldn't give a hoot in hell for a man who lost and laughed. That's why Americans have never lost and will never lose a war . . . because the very thought of losing is hateful to Americans.
Are Republicans "winners," while Americans who need health insurance are "losers"? It would seem that "winning" is apparently all that matters for Republicans and Donald Trump: As shown by last week's health care vote, the last five decades of Republican policies and Vladimir Putin's apparent interference with the 2016 election, their party is more important to GOPers than loyalty to their country, the general welfare or the common good.
It is estimated that the Republican Party's destruction of the Affordable Care Act would kill at least 43,000 Americans a year. That does not include the millions of Americans who will die prematurely from the emotional and physical stress related to the financial ruin that can be caused by a major or chronic illness.
Republicans love to wrap themselves in the American flag like a cheap suit. Here the flag is a prop to win over conservative, authoritarian and low-information voters who are swayed by such empty gestures. But such a ploy cannot hide a basic and unpleasant fact. On Sept. 11, 2001, almost 3,000 Americans were killed by Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida. Yet the Republicans in Congress, at the behest of Donald Trump, voted last Thursday to kill almost 15 times that many Americans every year.
Their decision to take away affordable health care from some of the most vulnerable Americans is an act of political violence and a form of terrorism. Once again the Republicans are showing their contempt for the "useless eaters." While the leaders of the ruling political party have convinced themselves that they are heroes, in reality they are villains and enemies of the American people.