The Race of Coverage and Care

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Once again, the Republican attempt to erase yet another part of Barack Obama’s legacy has failed.  The question has always been whether opponents are against Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act.  Truth is, there is a difference . . . in the minds too many.  Obamacare is viewed as a remnant of the executive power a Republican-controlled Congress unwittingly created.  The Affordable Care Act, on the other hand, is legislation largely viewed as flawed but necessary.  Yet there are many that don’t believe the two are the same.

Proponents of the current health care plan are honest about the need for changes.  Opponents simply want the entire plan repealed and replaced, supporting the premise that this is solely about the 44th President of the United States.  The truth is that we haven’t seen the last of that fight.  That battle is not about access to coverage versus access to care.  America is having a conversation about race without talking about race.

The current American conversation about race began on July 27, 2004 in Boston, Massachusetts.  That evening, Illinois State Senator Barack Obama delivered the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention.   What followed was a meteoric rise to the White House with a brief stop in the upper chamber of Congress.  Soon thereafter, white America seemed all too happy to rip the bandages off wounds that were centuries old.  One problem with that – the bandages had largely been applied to the hearts, hopes and dreams of people of color, not white America.

Suddenly, it was okay to say that Americans of color, particularly those of African descent, had arrived.  Collectively, many white Americans believed the election of Barack Obama signaled the end of racism in America.  So much so, Republican legislators began a campaign to re-frame racism.  They created an environment replete with opposition, disrespect and accusation, making clear a pledge to oppose Barack Obama at all costs – to make him “a one-term president”.   After passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2012, Republicans voted to repeal the law a number of times, not because it was bad law but because it was marshaled through by Barack Obama without Republican support.

That opposition strategy failed and President Obama became, possibly, the most powerful president in modern U. S. history.  In response to Republican opposition, President Obama did what every person of color does when faced with opposition – he solved the problem.  He understood the power of the pen, making significant headway with executive orders and presidential memoranda.

In response to Barack Obama and the power handed to him by way of incessant opposition by the GOP-controlled Congress, America elected Donald J. Trump as the 45th president of the United States.  Trump’s campaign and election further reframed the conversation about race by cloaking it in protectionist strategy that signaled exclusion under the guise of an America first policy.  The Trump administration has made rollback of Obama initiatives its principle mission.

GOP efforts to rollback criminal justice reform is not about public safety or rule of law but about the man who dared speak openly about mass incarceration and the senseless deaths of unarmed men of color.  Use of the Congressional Review Act to undo Obama-era rules is not about making America great but about the man Donald Trump doggedly claimed was not born in the United States and, therefore, not a legitimate president.

Repeal of the Affordable Care Act is not about access to coverage versus access to care as the GOP would have you believe.  The GOP-led effort is about Barack Obama, the nation’s first African American president just like many of the other rollbacks are about dismantling Barack Obama’s legacy.  Not to worry, though – they’ll be back with another effort soon.

There’s no doubt, the conversation is about race.  It’s just been re-framed so no one has to actually talk about race.