…the passage of Obamacare was a traumatic event for Republicans. The wound it opened in the party’s psyche has not fully healed, and even more than a decade after its passage into law, they cannot reconcile themselves to its legitimacy.
The passage of Obamacare, even though it merely incrementally expanded an existing program (Medicaid) and copied a program designed by a Republican governor (Mitt Romney) was met by unmitigated hysteria on the right. What seemed to unhinge conservatives was less the substance of the bill than the very idea of Democrats using their control of government to … govern. Republicans became fixated with the sinister machinations that they believed had produced the bill.
They attacked “backroom deals,” which is of course a description for every deal ever made in Washington. They threw a fit at the use of budget-reconciliation procedures to iron out minor differences between the House version and the Senate version, the latter of which had attracted 60 votes. At one point, the proposed use of an obscure maneuver called “deem and pass” inspired conservative media to call the process “demon pass,” a symbolic expression of their belief that the legislation was demonic.
When the Supreme Court landed its latest, and possibly last, legal defeat to right-wing opponents of Obamacare, the immediate response on the right was, oddly enough, to mock the liberals who warned that the lawsuit might succeed. Conservative lawyers circulated lists of liberals who predicted that Amy Coney Barrett would side with the plaintiffs; National Review turned that list into its lead story.