Did the McCain Dissenting Vote Save the GOP?

While his no vote on the senate healthcare bill ruined the Republican attempts to repeal the Affordable Card Act, it may have saved their chances of maintaining congressional majorities in the mid-term elections.

Obamacare protesters in 2009. (Source: townhall.com)
Obamacare protesters in 2009. (Source: townhall.com)

In a highly dramatized moment, on July 28, 2017, John McCain gave a deliberate thumbs down and ended the nearly eight year quest for Congressional Republicans to repeal Obamacare. It was a wincing blow to the GOP who has made Obamacare one of their rallying cries for the better part of a decade. On that note, it is also worth noting that McCain was not alone, with Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska expectedly voting against the bill.

In my opinion, this was a good move for the American healthcare system. The so-called “skinny” repeal bill would have still left sixteen million less people with insurance in ten years. The Obamacare debates and town halls which took place throughout 2009 were some of the most divisive moments in recent American history. Turnout at these events was unbelievable for a largely uninvolved public.

These events led to a “shellacking” in the 2010 midterm elections as then-President Obama described it. A common joke among liberals is the protester holding a sign stating, “Keep Government out of my Medicare”. To be honest it still makes me laugh a bit, but I feel it serves as a sign of the broader misunderstanding of the American healthcare system.

This broad misunderstanding of healthcare creates and inherent resistance to change. It is scary, the possibility that you may need to change doctors, or will somehow receive less adequate care. In an already extraordinarily polarized moment, had one of the GOP healthcare bills passed, they could have been in for a shellacking come 2018. With his thumbs down John McCain may have saved the GOP hold on congress in 2018.

 

The Right Man For The Job

He begins with a bit of subtle humor, “It’s good to be back with you. Apparently I was a little missed.” A slight grin on his face as he chuckles and reviews the notes neatly assembled on his podium. The President recently fired the giant who was in charge of the investigation against his campaign and his latest scrawlings on the internet take us back to a time when uncertainty over the future of the office was at it’s peak. When guests in the oval office were subject to being put on the record. Not of the public record, but one inevitably of evidentiary purpose.

It’s his first day back on the job. There are already talks of permanent replacement candidates for the position. Will they replace him? In this inexperienced administration is it not fitting that the right man for the job is the butt of the most widely covered segments on SNL? Will they make the Governor’s daughter permanent or are they going to go to the administration’s favorite news channel archives to find a suitable replacement? Hopefully the other candidates wont bring up the Fuhrer in the job interview.

He’s going to start by introducing the General who will discuss the boss man’s upcoming trip with an ostensibly religious pretext. The goal of fixing centuries of damaged relations with a trip to three countries is almost laughable, so the expectations need to be downplayed. At lease the General will serve as a significant reprieve for today since his comments will fill half of the allotted time.

On to more serious matters… Wheres the beef? China. The good news of the day is that these American cows will finally be allowed to reach their final destination on Chinese soil. Thank you, Mr. Kissinger. Let’s not forget to mention enhancements to the war on drugs and healthcare. Just the war on drugs, there is no war on healthcare, is there? That will get everyone’s mind focused on the important topics. A few more updates and it’s on to the daily interrogation. As he clears his voice based on his posture you can tell he notices some moisture accruing around his shirt collar, but anyone would feel the same under these lights. At least they make for good TV  

After the first question, he sets the stage, “I assume you’re referring to the tweet.” Dammit, the first question! All of the preparation and updates and this is where their attention is? Those poor cows are never going to get to China with an attitude like that.  Now, it’s time to come up with an authoritative and clear answer to the question. After all, this is obviously an important topic to rise to the top. “The President has nothing further to add on that.” A well crafted answer which would make the strongest litigator red in the cheeks.

“As I mentioned, the President has nothing further to add on that. As I’ve said for the third time, there is nothing further to add on that.” Nothing but the approved line. Don’t give them an inch or they’ll crucify you. “I’m moving on.” That will show them.

Next up he’s served a question on internet publishing and cold war adversaries. Not quite the change of pace he was hoping for, but afterall, he’s the right man for the job. Stick to the script, these wonks will retreat soon enough. Maintain eye contact; don’t give them anything.

They move along quickly with the third degree and the most feared matter, the giant whose term was recently adjourned, seems to be adorning the line of questioning like the bread in a club sandwich. Then they sneak it in like a pickle; a question on whether or not this regular lambasting will continue. Finally he will get his chance to retaliate, to throw it back like a record breaking home run ball. “And I think that’s where there’s a lot of dismay, and I don’t think it’s something that just alone the President feels.” Don’t smile, that’ll show them.

Most would think that a title like the right man for the job would be bestowed on the most talented, qualified, and experienced candidate. Maybe for your job, but not this one. For this job there is no qualifications list. This job requires the patience of an angel and the backbone of a mollusk. The strange mixing of characteristics which make for such gripping cable news footage and entertaining parody on the regular. The questioning continues at a feverish pace, each either seeming to build like a combination on the last or to spin you around like a roundhouse you don’t see coming. The final blow is dealt swiftly, “You don’t have the full picture when you stand at that podium?” 

White House Podium

Happy Millennial Day

Certain phrases and terms tend to make my skin crawl when I see them in a news or blog headline. Where I have seen the term ‘Millennial’ most commonly used is in the context of tapping into a group of young consumers to find the best method extract funds which they seem to have no idea how to spend effectively, or recommendations on how to ‘deal’ with millennials in the workplace. A faceless and seemingly illogical demographic with a potentially large wallet if marketing firms and human resources departments don’t act immediately to shrink it.

At the time I’m writing this, today is April 25, 2017. This date marks one year since Pew published its research indicating that Millennials have surpassed Baby Boomers as the nation’s largest living generation. Roughly a year before this research was published, Millennials overtook Generation-X as the largest generational segment of the U.S. labor market. Although the specifics of these stats can be disputed on the basis of there being no official Census Bureau generational boundaries, there is no disputing this generational change in populations and the labor force, will, or has already occurred.

This trend is genuinely great news if you are a Millennial, but these gains in population distribution have little to no bearing on representation as Millennials are appallingly underrepresented in government. Currently, Millennials are represented by only five of the 435 members of congress whereas Boomers occupy a whopping 270 seats. So, while Millennials are the largest generational segment of the country’s population, it translates into little in terms of material impact.

Source: Associated Press, data compiled by Bloomberg
Source: Associated Press, data compiled by Bloomberg

One way this ‘maturity’ of congress can be explained is the inherent nature of career experience and the incumbent’s inherent advantage. Another more concerning explanation of how we arrived at this predicament is due to a terrible divergence in voter turnout. The Baby Boomer voting-eligible population peaked in size at 72.9 million around 2004 and in that same election year, voter turnout among eligible Baby Boomers was about 72%. By comparison, voter turnout among eligible Millennials peaked in 2008 at an abysmal 50%, and dropped in 2012 to 46%.

While voter turnout has historically always been worse among younger generations, the drop in recent years is particularly concerning as it appears this is a trend which will not be corrected in a linear way. Let us not forget that, issues aside, we just elected the oldest president in history.