Stop me if you’ve heard this story before:
Kathy Watson was anxious about her health coverage even before she woke up gasping for breath last month and drove herself to the emergency room with a flare-up in her heart condition. After struggling for years without insurance, the 55-year-old former small-business owner — who has battled diabetes, high blood pressure and two cancers — credits Obamacare with saving her life.
Watson also voted for Donald Trump, believing the businessman would bring change. She dismissed his campaign pledges to scrap the Affordable Care Act as bluster. Now, as she watches the new president push to kill the law that provided her with a critical lifeline, Watson finds herself among many Trump supporters who must reconcile their votes with worries about the future of their healthcare.
Watson, a proud, salty woman who was uninsurable a few years ago, isn’t ready to renounce Trump. But she’s increasingly frustrated by his vague promises to replace Obamacare with something better. “I’ve been through enough,” Watson said recently, sitting on the patio outside her mobile home, down a sandy road in a rural corner of northern Florida. “I don’t want to go back.”
“She dismissed his campaign pledges to scrap the Affordable Care Act as bluster.” A lot of people seem to have done that. But this isn’t just because Trump was such a ridiculous, blustery candidate. It’s also because it’s what we’ve come to expect from Republicans, and everyone tends to give them a pass for it. They say absurd things routinely, but the general reaction is a shrug: Oh, they have to say that stuff for the base. They’re just checking boxes.
But now a lot of moderate conservatives are learning that it wasn’t just affinity politics after all. They’re actually going to try to do all those things they’ve been talking about for years. At this point, our best hope is that they’re too fractious and too incompetent to pull it off.