Since the day that President Obama was sworn into office, Conservatives have been tripping all over themselves trying to convince the American people that every Obama policy is an attempt to destroy the country. They’ve called him a Marxist, a Communist, a Socialist, a Kenyan, a Muslim, an Anti-Colonialist, an Extremist, a Dictator, and an Evil Traitor. Of course there are many on the left who have also mis-characterized him by referring to him as a Progressive Liberal. The truth is that Obama is actually very much a Moderate. And if there was ever any doubt about that, just take a look at all of the Republican ideas that President Obama has adopted.
The latest thing that Conservatives are losing their minds over is Obama’s recent announcement and plan for making Community College FREE for American students. And before that they were losing their minds over Obamacare. Honestly, I could continue with a virtually endless list of all of the Obama positions that infuriate the right. But the irony is that many of the policies that the neo-Cons hate the most are actually Republican ideas. And they are Republican ideas that Conservatives widely supported…right up until Obama agreed with them.
Here are just a few examples….
FREE Community College- Even though Conservatives have been pounding their favorite narratives and insisting that this idea of free education is merely Obama’s latest attempt to force Socialism on the country, Obama’s plan is actually nothing new. As a matter of fact, it is directly patterned after a program started in Tennessee, by a Conservative Republican Governor.
In February of 2014, Republican Governor Bill Haslam introduced a new state-wide program to provide two years of free Community College to all Tennessee residents, regardless of merit or need. The Tennessee program is funded by the state’s lottery reserves and an endowment which was created by the Tennessee General Assembly.
According to Governor Haslam, the new program is already considered a big success. He said,
“We feel pretty good, just out of the gate, having almost 90% of our high school seniors apply. Interestingly, I think 85% say ‘I aspire to go to school beyond high school now.’ Our challenge is to make certain they are actually ready.”
So it seems that Republicans actually understood the importance of education and the need for increased college participation and national graduation rates….at least, until the President suggested that it was a great idea.
Health Care Reform- Here is another policy that totally enrages Conservatives. Many of them have called the Affordable Care Act the most disgusting, socialistic and damaging piece of legislation ever passed. Naturally they relentlessly attack Obama for ever coming up with such an evil Commie idea. But the problem with their extreme indignation is that this actually wasn’t a Liberal idea at all. In fact, Obamacare is quite literally a Republican health policy. The ACA was directly patterned after Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts Romneycare and was first created by the Conservative Heritage Foundation as an alternative to Hillary Clinton’s health care reform ideas over 20 years ago.
Obamacare is actually a far cry from Liberal or Progressive ideas on our health care problems. Most on the left would prefer a “single payer” system that is government-run, like Medicare or Medicaid. But because Conservatives are always afraid of too much government control, they came up with an alternative plan. One of the corner stones of their plan was the individual mandate.
In 1998, Stuart Butler, an economist for the Heritage Foundation, said the number one element for a Conservative health care system was that “every resident of the U.S. must, by law, be enrolled in an adequate health care plan to cover major health costs.” He added,
“Under this arrangement all households would be required to protect themselves from major medical costs by purchasing health insurance or enrolling in a pre-paid health plan. The degree of financial protection can be debated, but the principle of mandatory family protection is central to a universal health care system in America.”
And Conservatives all across the country endorsed this idea. The Heritage Foundation was still defending the individual mandate as late as 2008. They insisted that it was non-ideological, reasonable, and non-partisan.
Cap And Trade- Even though the Republicans now refer to cap and trade as “cap and tax,” the story here is pretty much the same. Long before President Obama was around, President H.W. Bush proposed a plan called the Clean Air Act of 1990. At the time he was concerned with acid rain so he came up with a plan that would cap sulfur-dioxide emissions, while at the same time allow the market to figure out how to allocate the permits.
Bush’s plan passed easily with support from Conservatives including Mitch McConnell and Newt Gingrich. As a matter of fact, Republicans like Newt Gingrich were praising this plan as late as 2007. Seriously, even John McCain included a cap and trade plan in his 2008 platform. But, just like with education and health care reform, as soon as Obama endorsed the plan, the neo-Cons immediately did an about face and decided to demonize the whole idea of cap and trade as another of Obama’s terrible policies designed to destroy the country. And this fit in perfectly with their new narrative that Climate Change is all one big Obama hoax.
Now normally, the reason that a political party would completely abandon their core ideas is because of practical policy failure. But that is definitely not the case here. I mean, just using these three examples, the Republican ideas were actually quite successful. The Clean Air Act of 1990 really did solve our sulfur-dioxide problem. After Mitt Romney enacted the individual mandate in Massachusetts, the state’s number of uninsured dropped below 5%. And it looks like the free Community College plan is already a great success in Tennessee.
The bottom line is that the Republicans have made it their mission to oppose President Obama on absolutely everything. And the end result of such insanity is that the middle ground has virtually disappeared. It really has not mattered that Obama has tried so hard to compromise with the right because every single time that he has attempted to appease them, he has been met with a Republican Party who is determined to oppose him, even when the ideas that they so vehemently oppose are actually their own.