If elected, I will repeal Obamacare on day one," promised the grandfather of Obamacare, Mitt Romney. Of course, he wasn't elected. There will be no Day One for Romney; no un-signing spectacle moments after a decaffeinated virgin daiquiri Inauguration. Romney lost the election. He only got (appropriately, and ominously) 47 percent of the popular vote and far fewer electoral votes than John Kerry.
Therefore, Obamacare is here to stay. It's over.
But lo and behold: People like health care. Strangely enough, sickness equaling bankruptcy isn't preferred, but having affordable health insurance is. Being taken care of (instead of dropped) when faced with a disease is novel to some Americans and they've developed a taste for it. According to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey, only 33 percent of Americans actually want to see Obamacare repealed. More Americans believe in Big Foot than Footing All Medical Bills.
It passed the House and the Senate. It was signed by the president. It was held up by the Supreme Court. The presidential candidate who ran against it lost. This is Obama's America: Your private insurance company finally has to act ethically. Huzzah.
So what's next? Republicans ran a micro-targeting campaign aimed solely at old white southerners. The Grampa's Old Party did their best to get fewer and fewer people to vote for them. While ostracizing "other" Americans, they ended up isolated themselves. They implemented voter ID laws and tried to make it as difficult as possible to vote. (For them, but also in general.) They wanted fewer votes, believing less is more ... for Republicans. In the 2012 cycle Republicans ran against everything popular with Americans - like birth control and taxing rich people. They shrunk their party down to the hardcore: the outer core left alone to cringe at what their former party had become (four words: front runner Michele Bachmann).
Here's how Republicans can gain back their popularity: Admit Obamacare was their idea. Go on, just admit it. They renounced it once Obama embraced it. It's now law. It's popular. Reclaim what is (ahem) rightfully Republican!
Just admit the individual mandate was first proposed by Nixon, promoted by George H. W. Bush and fleshed out by the Heritage Foundation. It was the "conservative answer" to the health care issue - it was the "free-market solution" to reform. Admit Bob Dole and Newt Gingrich peddled the government mandate to purchase private health insurance as the Republican alternative to Hillarycare. Just ADMIT it was Mitt Romney who, when governor, implemented the individual mandate in his state. Just admit Romney said (in one of his many incarnations) the individual mandate would ward against any Massachusettsians being "free riders."
It's the law of the land. People like it. So own it. It's yours anyway. Tort reform is the saddest answer ever to the "what would you do instead of the individual mandate?" question, because "that was OUR idea!!" is the real answer. It's a sensible, pragmatic, pro-business solution and Republicans used to be all of those things.
So be Republicans again: Tout Obamacare.
Then Republicans can run on it. Obamacare works? "See? I told you so!" they can tell people who still vote Republican. Individual mandate equals personal responsibility. Everyone pays their own way! Republican. Republican. Republican.
Let liberals whine about the public option. Let them pine for socialized medicine. Let them lament that private insurance won't bring down costs enough. Let them finger-wag about all the issues we'll have to face going forward. Republicans had a plan, the plan was put into place, Americans tell pollsters they like said plan - now conservatives should defend the Republican plan.
Hey, what's a little Etch-a-Sketch among friends, huh? Re-set? Re-launch? A little Romnesia goes a long way. Not all the way to the Oval Office, thankfully.