What Is Divisive
Derek Thompson writes that the Stimulus and Obamacare are the first and second “most divisive legislation in modern history.”
He’s wrong. The laws are not at all divisive. The Republicans are. The current conservative movement is the most divisive in modern history.
It’s easy to see. Consider these two scenarios.
First, imagine that the 2008 economic crisis happened two years earlier, in 2006, smack in the middle of Bush’s second term. Bush probably would not have tried to pass a stimulus like Obama’s, but consider what would have happened had he done exactly that.
The important point to remember is that Republicans and conservatives in general did not oppose the stimulus because it spent a lot of money; Bush had spent way more over the previous years and they were not really all that opposed to it. They would not have liked so much spending on infrastructure, but they would not have violently opposed it, either—so long as it was a Republican administration passing it. Democrats, not even close as willing to be divisive and opposed on purely partisan grounds, would have gone along with the bill. They would probably have complained that it did not spend enough on infrastructure and other left-wing wish-list items, but they would not voted against it.
When the stimulus passed, the horrendously plummeting job market immediately reversed, the stock market turned around and began a comeback, and several months later, unemployment stopped rising. Had this happened in 2007, Bush would have been hailed as an economic savant, a hero who stopped an impending economic disaster.
Try to tell me that wouldn’t be the right wing’s take on the issue. There’s really no question—of course they would have reacted that way.
The Stimulus in itself would not have been “divisive” at all.
Obamacare would have played out similarly. Imagine that in 2008, Romney got the GOP nomination and then won, maybe riding high on Bush’s Stimulus recovery. He brings the Massachusetts health care plan—essentially Obamacare—to the national level. Democrats complain, wanting single-payer Medicare for All, but Romney sticks with the conservative plan, which was created, after all, by the strictly conservative Heritage Foundation. Conservatives did not oppose the plan when the Heritage Foundation proposed it. Conservatives did not oppose the plan when Romney instituted it. They only opposed it when Obama made it his own.
Republicans, pleased to get on top of a winning issue that Democrats would otherwise have dominated, would have approved the conservative health care plan proposed by a conservative president who had successfully implemented it before. Some right-wingers would have opposed it, but not nearly enough to stop its passage. Again, Democrats would have complained it did not go far enough, but most would have voted for it.
Again, the legislation is not divisive at all.
People have to understand: the Stimulus is not divisive. Obamacare is not divisive. Obama is not divisive. Obama is hardly even a liberal, for Christ’s sake.
The current political atmosphere is divisive only because conservatives have decided that such extreme partisan rancor works well for them. Period. End of sentence.