by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Health care is a morass. Few politicians, Democratic or Republican, emerge from the issue unscathed.
Random House defines an “aginner” as “a person who opposes a plan, proposed legislation, or any drastic change.” When it comes to the politics of health care and entitlements, aginners have the advantage. It is far safer for a candidate to attack proposed overhauls of American public insurance and pensions than it is to defend them. In 1994, Republicans benefited from public opposition to Hillary Clinton’s health reform. In 2010, Republicans won the House on the pledge to repeal Obamacare. Continued fallout from Obamacare’s troubled launch in 2013 helped the GOP retain the House and win the Senate the following year.
But aginners are not Republicans. They target both parties. They went after the GOP in 2005 when George W. Bush attempted to introduce personal accounts to Social Security. In 2018, Democrats attacked Republicans for their purported willingness to repeal Obamacare without guaranteeing that Americans with pre-existing medical conditions would be insured. Forty-one percent of respondents in the national exit poll last year said health care was the most important issue in the country. These voters broke Democratic, 75 percent to 23 percent.
The 2020 election presents aginners with a choice. Whom do they fear more: aloof Republicans or radical Democrats?