1. It’s Friday, June 16, 2017.
2. It’s Commencement Day at my alma mater, Northwestern University. Billie Jean King is acing the commencement speech.
Congratulations to my fellow NU alums. I’ll be back at commencement in nine years.
3. In the 2008 Pixar film “Wall-E,” the villain was a giant corporation called Buy-N-Large. It was an all-encompassing business and contributed to making Earth uninhabitable.
At the time, people thought Pixar was spoofing Walmart, which was perceived as being on the path toward total dominance of American business.
But it sure does seem this morning as though Big-N-Large might be Amazon, which announced a $13.7 billion deal for Whole Foods Market.
Amazon has slowly added to its portfolio, which, of course, started out as an online book store. You’d be hard pressed to think of something it doesn’t sell – or joins with someone else to sell. It has ventured into entertainment. Its founder, Jeff Bezos, now owns The Washington Post.
By buying Whole Foods, it’s looking to get further entrenched in groceries, a difficult part of the retail industry. Whole Foods has succeeded by being perceived as a healthier place to shop than one of the regional chains.
So what can these two do together? It will be interesting to see. Turning Earth into a wasteland a la Buy-N-Large seems contradictory to Whole Foods’ mission. But that hugeness isn’t something to look at lightly.
4. It’s funny to watch pundits and my fellow Democrats wonder why the Republicans are so hellbent on passing TrumpRyanCare, a health uninsurance plan to gut the Affordable Care Act.
In particular, they don’t understand why Republicans would pass a measure that is viewed negatively in every single state.
And so here is my periodic reminder about the difference between Democrats and Republicans.
Democrats believe that government is good. It can be used to affect positive change in people’s lives.
They believe in the idea that the best way to govern is by consensus – that it’s better to get a measure that’s watered down to gather the maximum amount of support than to force through something that narrowly, if fervently, popular.
That, in short, is what’s wrong with Obamacare. Democrats wanted something that everybody would like rather than something a few people would love. So there was disappointment on both sides – if you look at ACA approval polls, you’ll find that a part of the group opposing it did so because it didn’t do enough.
So Democrats, when they’re in charge, govern.
Republicans, on the other hand, believe government is bad. It can only interfere with people.
Not interfering with people protects the status quo, since no one is stepping in to help those who might need it – unless it’s through the largesse of those who already have what they need.
To make sure government does as little as possible, it’s important to rule. To ride herd over those seeking change, because they interfere with the natural course of things, which is that those who have keep getting.
So, even though not one in three Americans approve of what they’ve seen so far, Republicans continue their march toward this sea change in health care.
They want to bring back the way it was before Obamacare tilted things. That was the natural order – the way to best help those who support the party and its idea that government can do no good.
You can cry all you want about how Mitch McConnell and the Senate Republicans are writing a secret bill that no one likes, how undemocratic that idea is and how they could possibly expect to survive the fallout.
They don’t care. Ruling is their burden and their mission. You will learn to like it.
Keeping opponents and even those who just want to know what the hell is going on in the dark is an important tactic. It is a noble strategy in their eyes to get done what needs to get done to return things to the natural order.
The big problem for those of us on this side is that, more often than not, when Republicans have bet on this strategy, they’ve won.
When they fail, they fail miserably. See the financial crisis of 2008 for that one.
Their bet, because they are all in on the idea that they’re doing God’s work against the evil of government, is that they’ll be right again on health care. It’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it.
What can we do?
Folks, the train left the station in November. If you sat out the election, or voted for a third-party candidate, or voted for Trump, you own this. If it’s as bad as we think it’s going to be, you’re complicit in wrecking people’s lives.
For those of us who saw this and now feel powerless to stop it, the odds are that we’re going to be picking up the pieces, most likely in 2020.
And this time, maybe we should learn from the Republicans. Maybe when it comes to the health of more than 300 million Americans, we should put our feet down.
NHS-USA, anyone? In this case, to protect ourselves and our fellow Americans, we need to rule.