Why You Should Root for Obamacare’s Failure

The president’s health care overhaul is bad medicine.

In a news conference expected to feature a mea culpa for the Obamacare website fiasco, President Barack Obama turned the tables on his political opponents, scolding them for using their supernatural ability to transform the mere hope of failure into a reality.

"It's time," he implored, "for folks to stop rooting for its failure, because hardworking middle-class families are rooting for its success."

There is a serious problem with that statement. Now, if you're a libertarian, rooting for Washington to fail is probably one of your cherished hobbies. It's certainly one of the most unappreciated sentiments a person embraces. And most often, there is nothing unpatriotic, immoral or unethical about it. Quite the opposite, really.

Sometimes we have no choice. Example: As the Red Sox (a team that, as a Yankees fan, I detest) and the Cardinals (a team for which I have no strong feelings either way) meet in the World Series, I am forced to enthusiastically cheer for a Boston flop -- with any luck, an ugly and dramatic flop. When sweet failure arrives, I intend to fully embrace schadenfreude (the ugly cousin of "rooting for failure"), knowing full well that my wishes had absolutely no bearing on the outcome.

Not so in politics, evidently. Nowadays, rooting against the Democrats is tantamount to rooting against America. But it's a fallacy that any failure has, by default, a negative consequence. Attaching a phony moral significance to the word "failure" is, as anyone who's watched politics or witnessed what bad legislation can do, nothing more than a way to smear your opponent's intentions. It's a weak attempt to bully those who disagree with you into rhetorical submission.

When it comes to Obamacare, it's likely that most failure boosters have no desire to see "hardworking middle-class families" or, for that matter, even lazy rich families suffer unnecessarily. When confronted by this false choice, plenty of middle-class families are, no doubt, rooting for failure, as well. If an American believes Obamacare is unhelpful, destructive or counterproductive, its failure is success.

There are other reasons to cheer failure, as well. As Ed Rogers at The Washington Post recently wrote, "the failure of Obamacare would discourage and hopefully deter those who think a bigger, more domineering U.S. government is the answer to our problems. And most important, the horrors of this debacle and the collapse of Obamacare would have a chilling effect on politicians who want to promote big government solutions."

My hope is that Obamacare -- not to mention numerous other initiatives supported by the president -- fails for a whole host of reasons. And not only do I have my fingers crossed that Obamacare fails in the way that most policy fails us but I hope it fails so hard that any residual perception among voters that any part of it was prudent policy is completely eliminated. Anything less might mean that a substantial enough bloc of Americans would continue to operate under the false impression that top-down technocratic control of their decisions is a good idea. And that would be a genuine failure.

Wishful thinking, no doubt. And admittedly, there's also a self-centered reason to root for your ideological opponents not to succeed. Their misfortune confirms your worldview -- one that you've probably spent considerable time and effort cultivating. Anyone with a shred of intellectual honesty remains somewhat open to the possibility that he is wrong, but he is certainly under no obligation to root against his own beliefs. Not even if a president armed with a straw man demands it of him.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • ||

    Next, they'll be calling us traitors and defeatists.

    Oh wait, they're already doing that? Nevermind.

  • Paul.||

    No, Hazel, you're just going to get the Hot Dog story, which we got from a group of executives who ran a good company into the ground:

    http://www.thehrgroupinc.net/the-hot-dog-story

    Pay particular attention to the site it links to if you bother to read the Hot Dog story. Yeah. It's a popular one amongst management types.

  • MSimon||

  • Live Free or Diet||

    Next, they'll be calling us traitors and defeatists.

    Oh wait, Hazel already said that? Nevermind.

  • Calypso Facto||

    Or as Bastiat said, “Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all. We disapprove of state education. Then the socialists say that we are opposed to any education. We object to a state religion. Then the socialists say that we want no religion at all. We object to a state-enforced equality. Then they say that we are against equality. And so on, and so on. It is as if the socialists were to accuse us of not wanting persons to eat because we do not want the state to raise grain.”

  • Hyperion||

    Bastiat, is smiling from his grave. How can anyone be so right, yet today, and not be? I really love that guy.

  • ||

    You know what other massive government program's failure we would have been rooting for?

  • R C Dean||

    All of them?

  • Paul.||

    Yes, we know.

  • Sevo||

    Stop, team, Stop!

  • NealAppeal||

    "Why You Should Root for Obamacare’s Failure"

    Because we are RACISTS!!!11!

  • Bean Counter||

    Reminds me of Wanda Sykes blasting Limbaugh for saying he wanted Obama to fail, and I quote "That's like saying you want America to fail." This of course is the same woman who wildly cheered every setback Bush had. Apparently, it's only wanting America to fail when the "right people" are in charge. Sigh!

  • Bean Counter||

    Oh...and we're RACIST and hate Children!!

  • John||

    And the very same people who wished for a "thousand Mogadeshus" when Bush went into Iraq. Actively rooting for American soldiers to die in the field is apparently totally okay.

  • ||

    Our Glorious Beloved Infallible Commissar promised to end Dubya's wars, but he has doubled down on Dubya's and started his own.

    Defund the wars!

  • montana mike||

    Shit this bitch is on Leno, I'm changing the channel. The fact that some people think she is somehow clever or intelligent has always made me wonder...Fuck Cher is on Dave, I have to change the channel again. At least Jimmy has a very attractive young AA lady, have to find out who she is.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "What’s wrong with rooting for a dangerous and misguided policy to fail?"

    ObamaCare's failure is going to hurt some people, and the problem with rooting for it to fail is that there are tons of people who won't be able to tell the difference between those who want it to fail--and those who want to see people get hurt.

    That was the whole reason to oppose it--ObamaCare is going to hurt people. I was hoping we could spare people all that pain and harm. So, I think we need to make an extra effort to present ourselves as being glad to see it fail--because of all the harm it was going to bring. ...and sorry for all the people who get hurt as it collapses.

    One of the reasons we libertarians are so marginalized is because we're perceived as being uncaring--in contrast to people like Obama, who is perceived as a humanitarian. The only way to battle that stereotype is to live it down. We have a chance here to show our fellow Americans how much pain Obama will cause with ObamaCare, and we should absolutely take advantage of that.

    But a great way to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory would be to make ourselves look uncaring--when we should be doing the exact opposite. The reason libertarians oppose ObamaCare is becasue we care about people--that's what we should be selling. If we're not careful, people are gonna walk away muttering that the only reason we are glad to see ObamaCare fail is because we don't give a shit about anybody but ourselves.

  • Almanian!||

    How about if I add the #caring hashtag after my tweets? Will that show how much I #care?

  • Ken Shultz||

    It wouldn't hurt.

    And from now on, if you could go around making that heart-hand symbol every time you use the word "libertarian" in conversation, that might help, too.

    http://popdust.com/slideshow/heart-hand/

    Seriously, once we find effective ways to get the message out about how compassionate conservatism libertarianism is, we start #winning.

    In the meantime, we should try to resist the urge to kick any puppies uninsured, poor people with preexisting conditions.

    No amount of heart-hands will make up for kicking people while they're down.

  • Paul.||

    I've always used the heart hand sign. I was using it before internet kissy face became so popular.

  • OneOut||

    Braggart.

  • Paul.||

    That was the whole reason to oppose it--ObamaCare is going to hurt people. I was hoping we could spare people all that pain and harm.

    You're describing the business meeting I had this morning, Ken.

    It would be nice if we could go through these processes and you listened to your technical people, that way we could avoid all this heartache and pain we're going through now.

  • R C Dean||

    Too wordy, Ken. Try this:

    "We want it to fail, not because we hate Obama, but because it is and always has been and will be a disaster for everyone struggling to make ends meet. The sooner we recognize it as a failure and get rid of it, the better off we will all be."

  • Ken Shultz||

    Thank you.

  • OneOut||

    We don't want it to fail because that will increase the pain on American families We want it repealed, NOW, before it hurts more American families and single Moms with children.

    How's that ?

  • PapayaSF||

    Good points, but with that has to come some "common sense," free-market alternative proposals. There are plenty of things that can be done, but they must be articulated. "Stop Obamacare because we knew it would fail and hurt people" isn't enough.

  • Ken Shultz||

    The idea that ObamaCare is going to hurt people really hasn't gained currency yet.

    We need to keep pushing that message.

    The idea where people with preexisting conditions stay uninsured; that the poor can never afford insurance; and that average people will be priced out of the insurance market completely, that may be the result of ObamaCare, but most people think ObamaCare is supposed to be the solution to those problems. We shouldn't be glad to see those problem proliferate under ObamaCare.

    We should be glad to see ObamaCare fail because it will exacerbate all of those problems. If we don't understand the difference there, clearly, how can we expect other people who aren't libertarians to catch on?

  • ||

    The idea that ObamaCare is going to hurt people really hasn't gained currency yet.

    Which should tell you everything you need to know, because it was shouted from every roof top before the law was passed.

  • Killazontherun||

    Tax breaks for medical providers who stay outside of the tertiary price system?

  • ||

    One of the reasons we libertarians are so marginalized is because we're perceived as being uncaring--in contrast to people like Obama, who is perceived as a humanitarian.

    Take some advice from Jonathan Swift:

    It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into.

    People have that perception because they are fucking morons, and other fucking morons, who heard it from the idiot box, told them so. Don't count on winning those people over to your side with a nuanced statement about why you want a government boondoggle to fail. The people who comprehend the argument already agree with you.

  • PapayaSF||

    The Swift quote is often correct, but not always. Logic and reality can sometimes overcome the emotions of political commitment.

  • Paul.||

    . "It's time," he implored, "for folks to stop rooting for its failure.”

    I worked for a company throughout the 90s that was eventually purchased in 2000 by shady group of venture capitalists. They proceeded to run the company into the ground over the proceeding 18 months through some of the worst management practices anyone could ever imagine.

    During the implosion, the employees were blamed for negativity and not having the proper vision. I'm guessing working for Sebelius feels similar.

  • DenverJay||

    "The beatings will continue until moral has improved"

  • Hyperion||

    We're not going to have to root too hard.

    And BTW, David Harsanyi, you're a racist and you hate the children. Just thought I'd let you know that since there are no proglodytes here to tell you.

  • TomG||

    The problem is that even if it succeeds, it is a failure. Most of these government programs don't fail in big, spectacular ways. They may seem competently administered and have measurable benefits. The problem is that opportunity costs are never accounted for: what greater benefit didn't happen because government took the money and because government monopolized the service?

  • JeremyR||

    The problem isn't the website. It's just a completely insane plan. It takes money from pretty much everyone, and it gives it to the health insurance corporations.

    I don't have health insurance because I'm poor. Does Obamacare help me? No, I apparently don't qualify for any sort of subsidy.

    And even if I did, I would be able to get a plan that would have a several thousand dollar deductible. If I can't afford insurance, how the heck am I supposed to afford a deductible?

    The real problem is that health insurance should be just that - insurance. Not something you use except in the case of an emergency

  • ||

    JeremyR, look a little harder. If you really are poor, you will be eligible for Medicaid and it will cost you zero, with no deductible. That's the law! However, if you live in a state that doesn't take government assistance for Medicaid, I advise you to move to a state that does take government aid(NY, CA, KY to name a few)

  • kenezen||

    I like your article. No one should "Hate"liberal attitudes as long as they parallel Constitutional directives and Capitalistic philosophy upon which our founders created this governmental structure.
    Unfortunately, the last 11 years, four of President Bush and five of President Obama have set in place governmental activities that our Founders despised. Monroe talked about the evil of General Warrants now used but, not allowed by our Constitution. Jefferson screamed over and over about Too Big Central Government! The last great Socialistic President, W. Wilson gave us the only Extra Constitutional Agency IRS which now has our taxes and health care. Has anyone read Article 6331 of the IRS code? We are too close to totalitarianism.

  • GamerFromJump||

    The sidebar rendered this headline was "Why You Should Root for Obamacare". Initial reaction was "lolwut".

  • TheZeitgeist||

    Who roots for government flops? I just expect them; no suspense in what happens means no cheering felt or needed.

    With gov-flop, there only is.

  • montana mike||

    Yup, and they have a very high OBP if you follow baseball.

  • Anvil||

    I'll root when it actually flops and is declared as such, for now I'll just support efforts to repeal it.

  • Eric Bana||

    In my case what happened was a sense of hope and possibility for the future to spread libertarianism far and wide, much like Ken expresses above. Later it turned to discouragement and disbelief. Finally I've come to a stage of rather cold indifference. My only interest in politics is the vindication I feel when things go wrong as I (and many others) powerlessly knew they would. It's not so much rooting as it is the only consolation prize you can get.

    Hell, even the spell-checker for these comments treats the word "libertarianism" as a typo. Laugh so you don't cry.

  • montana mike||

    ^^^^This, I'm pushing 60 and probably will die before the chickens ultimately come home to roost. I can't imagine how it will thrash the lives of my daughter, nieces and nephews and that makes me sad, bacause for the most part they don't see it coming.

  • Faceless Commenter||

    Slight OT -- hey, GET YOUR ASSES OUT OF BED and answer my question.

    Anyone know anything about Jeff Zients? I'm rooting for him to take the career dive of his life, like William Mulholland and the St. Francis Dam.

  • ||

    It's usually a good idea to moderate ones thoughts about anything. There is a big wish for the President to fail. If he does, what or who will replace the idea or the person. The way the country is headed at the moment with NSA and The Patriot Act in the back ground, I personally would be very careful about what I wished for. I would like some sort of reproachment between the two political parties. The country has had a lot of success with some give and take by both sides.
    Good luck, we're going to need it.

  • Faceless Commenter||

    bob, Dem/Rep rapprochement and the success of Obama are two different things -- although I actually think the latter could lead to the former.

  • Faceless Commenter||

    Okay, another OT on bizarre finding on the internet today: Anthony Weiner's website is still up.

    http://www.anthonyweiner.com/

  • ArbutusJoe||

    "if you're a libertarian, rooting for Washington to fail is probably one of your cherished hobbies"

    Not this libertarian. Rooting for the inevitable is a form of waste, not unlike rooting for cooler weather in the fall.

    What is not known is whether Americans will learn anything from this failure. That's something worth rooting for.

  • sheakim11||

    what Antonio replied I cant believe that a mother able to earn $9155 in a few weeks on the computer. visit site
    http://WWW.JOBS72.COM

  • juliajuli7||

    ==========I quit working at shoprite and now I make $30h - $72h...how? I'm working online! My work didn't exactly make me happy so I decided to take a chance on something new… after 4 years it was so hard to quit my day job

    ============
    http://www.works23.com

    Go to website and click Home tab for more details.
    Have a bright future....

  • Duelles||

    I was proclaimed a racist in 1970. I admitted that I could tell the difference between a black man and a white man in a philosophy class. I determined in that class that I was also a sexist, a beastist, and vegetarianist, and an alienist, although I had yet to actually meet any aliens. In current lingo that might be different.

  • Edwin||

    The problem is when Obamacare fails it will be a pretext to move to single-payer system

  • Elston G||

    Yeah, What would be better than putting the Net Negative Value middleman skim operation, run by Wall Street, back in the drivers seat between the doctor and the patient in the health care industry?

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement