This ObamaCare hate can't be cured

That is the way people cling with ardor to causes they have felt honor-bound to maintain. In the mid-term elections this fall, evidence will matter little to the opponents of Obamacare. Like Dos Passos, they will refuse to consider anything that goes against their devotion. Such people understandably think their own best self was given over to defeating the hated thing. It is not only a matter of self-respect but of commitment to others. Dos Passos had crusaded with some of his most treasured friends for Sacco and Vanzetti. Some truly despicable people had been on the other side, tainting it forever in his mind. The case was, moreover, symbolic of other commitments—to the right to a fair trial, to immigrant rights, to free speech—which he could not dislodge by removing one brick from the structure.

That kind of commitment looks all the nobler to those preserving it as they resist attacks. I presume that Obamacare will become just successful enough to endure after adjustments and repair; but that will not make it any less hated by the people who have spent years encouraging each other to inveigh against it in extreme exercises of vilification (death panels, socialism, destruction of the Constitution, etc.). We have to remember that Social Security remained hated long after its success made it undislodgeable. As a symbol of the New Deal, Republicans have tried to defeat it down through the decades. Paul Ryan is still at it. George W. Bush tried to use his re-election mandate to privatize it. Once such a cause is made sacred by sacrificing for it, it will remain a cult object forever.

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