The alt-right and much of President Donald Trump’s base have long been allies in an all-out effort to repeal former President Barack Obama’s landmark health care initiative, the Affordable Care Act.
Trump's vow to get rid of Obamacare was one of the campaign promises critical to the success of his Republican presidential candidacy, and he repeated it on his first day in office. His victory made it clearer than ever that a faction of the Republican Party was hell-bent on diminishing Obama's greatest domestic policy achievement.
After weeks of failures in the Republican-held Senate to garner enough support for bills that would either fully repeal Obamacare or otherwise leave the law dead in the water, polls show that the majority of the nation is ready to move on. But the far right is still fighting for a win—even though many don’t seem to be clear on what the Affordable Care Act has covered since its 2010 inception.
Take, for example, Trump supporter and internet personality Tomi Lahren, who took the stage at Politicon Monday with Netflix host Cheslea Handler to discuss their opposing views on the Affordable Care Act. For nearly 10 minutes, Lahren attacked the bill as ineffective and damaging to the national economy.
"I don’t think that the universal health care system, I believe that it fails the very people that it’s intended to help," Lahren said. "And I think there are examples of that all across the world…it sounds good, it sounds good, but I just don’t think that socialism, I don’t think single payer universal health care, I mean, we can see it."
"OK, so do you have a health care plan or no?" Handler asked.
"Well, luckily I’m 24, so I am still on my parents'," Lahren replied.
It is beside the point whether Lahren didn’t know Obamacare is the reason she has access to insurance or whether she simply forgot and walked back her statements after the crowd began shouting, "Thanks Obama!" That one of the most vocal supporters of deconstructing Obamacare turns out to benefit from it—and takes that benefit for granted—is what truly speaks volumes when listening to her final thoughts.
But Lahren isn't alone. Many Trump supporters have vocalized a desire to dismantle the Affordable Care Act without knowledge of its fundamental pieces.
The right wing forum 4chan was on fire during Wednesday’s late-night vote for a "skinny" repeal, an effort to remove components key to Obamacare’s implementation, like the individual and employer mandate.
It didn’t matter that Obamacare created access to insurance for Americans with pre-existing conditions or provided affordable care to 22 million Americans. For Trump supporters commenting as they viewed updates from the vote, repealing Obamacare was a party-line mission.
"Question, do we want them to vote 'no' or 'yes' ; and if so what will each option do in response?" one user wrote. Another simply responded: "'Yes' if you like Trump, 'no' if you don't."
Support for an outright repeal of the Affordable Care Act never reached a level that would urge lawmakers to adopt the issue as a priority-agenda item. Just 22 percent of the country supported the latest Republican-led attempts to replace the law in the Senate, with the majority of those surveyed saying they'd prefer to keep it intact. Republican and Democratic lawmakers alike have called for reforms to Obamacare’s problem areas, including Arizona Senator John McCain and Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
But when McCain, along with Republican senators Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins, voted "no" on the Obamacare skinny repeal, the 4chan forum quickly became a cesspool of racist outlash against Obama and his legacy as well as disturbing commentary on McCain’s newly diagnosed brain cancer. Members of the alt-right previously called the Arizona senator’s cancer "Godly justice" for challenging Trump, and that night they attacked him as "corrupt" and "unAmerican."
"I hope Trump puts McCain on full blast," one user wrote. “Who gives a shit if the old f**** has cancer? The country needs to make fun of him as he dies."
Self-proclaimed Make America Great Again enthusiasts, Trump voters and members of the alt-right have continued expressing their hopes of crushing Obamacare six months into Trump’s presidency, despite constant setbacks.
Even those Trump supporters who don’t rely on or interact with Obamacare whatsoever are pleading for its failure. "If I didn't have health insurance I would NOT buy Obamacare and I would NOT pay the penalty," one Twitter user wrote. "Arrest me. This is still America."
Meanwhile, the president has continued his calls to kill his predecessor’s law, threatening to take away insurance for lawmakers and to allow Obamacare to "implode" before fixing health care for Americans.
"Unless the Republican Senators are total quitters, Repeal & Replace is not dead! Demand another vote before voting on any other bill!" Trump wrote on Twitter. "Don't give up Republican Senators, the World is watching: Repeal & Replace...and go to 51 votes (nuke option), get Cross State Lines & more."
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