Readers know what happened yesterday, so let’s fast forward to figuring out why.
Was this a classic Donald Trump 5D-Chess™ move like sycophantic Bill Mitchell claims? No. Ryan’s bill was rejiggered to accommodate Trump’s campaign promises. Trump wanted this bill to pass bigly. It didn’t because of intransigent crybabies in the Freedom Caucus led by Paul the Younger.
Ryancare included damn near everything Presidential candidate Rand Paul campaigned on: shift people to HSAs that are not subject to state boundaries restrictions, cut taxes, and repeal Obamacare. In eleventh hour negotiations, Trump and Ryan bent over backwards to get Freedom Caucus support. Ryancare put the country in the right direction and was flexible enough to be modified later by Congress, but the Freedom Caucus just wouldn’t take ‘yes’ for an answer.
Tomorrow, Paul and his ideological jackboots like Mark Levin will say it’s in defense of freedom, liberty, and the Federalist Papers. They’ll say Doctor Paul bamboozled the so-called Negotiator-in-Chief. They’ll say the ball is in Paul’s court, and he will introduce an unapologetic, flat-out, straight-up in-yo-commie-face repeal of Obamacare. (Which is awesome because everyone loved the healthcare system before Obamacare). Rand and the aPaulstles will usher in a Neo-Enlightenment to a nation hitherto ignorant of free-market Losertarianism’s logical brilliance that inexplicably hasn’t gotten more than 0.7% support since 1802.
Except, the ball isn’t in Paul’s court. The Freedom Caucus is insignificant in any role except spoiler. They’re the Kshama Sawants of the Republican Party: fun to discuss in college classrooms and online forums, but utterly irrelevant. Except for diehard Ron Paul cultists, nobody believes the repeal bill will pass. So, why not accept the myriad concessions granted by Ryan and Trump? Why force Trump in round 2 to negotiate with the center rather than the right?
Ryancare passing would have been an enormous political victory for Donald Trump and his newfound bff Paul Ryan. Hand-in-hand, the dynamic duo would move on to cutting taxes and building walls. While great for Republicans—Freedom Caucus included—Rand Paul knows that what’s good for America isn’t good for Rand Paul’s ambitions.
Rand isn’t stupid. He may be a spoiled twit who can’t distinguish reality from Atlas Shrugged, but he isn’t stupid. He knows he can’t pass a blanket repeal of Obamacare. Even if it accidentally passed the legislature through typical Ron Paul chicanery, Trump would likely veto it because he campaigned on repeal and replace, not repeal and fuck it.
Torpedoing Ryancare means Obamacare is here to stay. Whether it survives or implodes doesn’t matter because Rand will accuse Trump of betraying Republican voters for not repealing Obamacare. He will, again, call Trump a secret liberal sympathetic to big government socialist takeover of healthcare.
We haven’t seen a second term primary challenge in decades. In 1992, Pat Buchanan challenged Bush the Elder’s second term election, and Reagan did it to Nixon in 1976. It’s clear that Rand Paul, by torpedoing Ryancare/Trumpcare, is setting himself up for a 2020 primary challenge to Donald Trump.
A Secret Super Hero?
Like Kafka, I love to explore radical, previously unconsidered angles. Maybe Rand’s 2020 primary challenge is based on love of country. Maybe he believes America is best served by a Philosopher King rather than a God Emperor.
Rand assumes Trump will lose the 2020 general election because Trump is an intellectual simpleton who can’t even recite the orbiter dicta of Alexis de Tocqueville’s teenage diary. Regardless of Ryancare’s success or failure, Rand sees a Democrat in the White House from 2020 to 2028. Democrats could then grant amnesty, turn Texas blue, and really—and I mean, really—fundamentally transform America. Future Presidential candidates will range from Stalin on the left to Lenin on the right until a bloody revolution.
But, I’m doubtful of any selfless motives. Rand is irrationally lashing out and attention-seeking after months of suppressing the intense jealousy and furious eye-rolling over Trump’s ascendancy.
Paul the Younger grew up devoted to his father’s idea of the American political landscape, despite his father’s lifetime of abject failure. Then, in 2016, when all the stars seemed to align for the Rand Paul Revolution, everything he and his father had ever worked for was suddenly smashed by a yahoo reality TV star named Donald Trump.