House Republicans & Heroin

Governing is the opposite of dope.

It’s real world. It’s working the program. Accepting blame and accountability, breaking with fantasy. It’s hanging out with people who don’t think like you. It’s reminding yourself that life is full of constraints and you can’t just do whatever occurs to you. It’s realizing that you are not perfect and there are others whose opinions matter in this world.

That said, the recent health-care fiasco displayed House Republicans behaving like heroin addicts.

It’s easy to go on Fox News for years, blame someone else for everything when you don’t have to be accountable for finding solutions. It’s easy to rant about the endless failures of those people who do. Ranting is a narcotic; so is outrage; so is complaining and destroying. It gives us a big blast of dopamine to the brain. As does spending a lot of time insisting on all the nifty ways you’d do things better when you are king of the world. Feels so luxurious. Feels a lot like heroin, I suspect.

Being an opposition party means never having to put an idea to a constituent smell test. You get used to it – your tolerance for fantasy rises like an addict’s tolerance for a narcotic. Like addicts, you hang out with folks who think like you, talk like you, and never force you to face anything resembling reality, or the necessity of compromise.

Living without compromise is a nice idea in theory, but it’s possible only when you’re high on, and surrounded by, ideology — or dope.

A heroin addict brooks no compromise. He wants a world his way only. No messy complications, no one telling him no. Ask any parent of an addict.

What I think we saw was people addicted to a warm, euphoric ideological fantasy world in which they’ve lived for the last several years. Addicted to the idea that they could do it alone, didn’t need anybody, didn’t need to compromise. This Freedom Caucus seemed dead-set on depriving anyone but the wealthiest of what most would deem civilized health care: maternity care, ER visits, not to mention addiction-treatment coverage.

It was bizarre to watch them line up to take away benefits needed by so many who had just elected them and their president, and give them to our aristocracy.

Harold Pollack noted in this article in Politico that Democrats working to forge Obamacare held hearings over months and accepted more than 150 Republican amendments to the bill they passed. House Republicans this time took 18 days and “the payout to the top 400 families [in America] alone was estimated to exceed total ACA subsidies in 20 states and the District of Columbia.”

How do you come to the conclusion that thinking like the upper classes of pre-revolution France is okay?

Well, perhaps because House Republicans lived in a bubble for seven years, voting to repeatedly repeal Obamacare knowing it would be vetoed. Then the fantasy ended and they finally had the power to do it. They had nothing to replace it with. (John Boehner is, I’m sure, happy to be away from all that.) What they came up with would have savaged the very people who put them in office.

The word `compromise’ gets a bad rap these days, but it’s actually another way of saying something else. It’s saying, we’re behaving like adults. We’re not going to act like petulant children who want a world run according to their whims alone, which is, in turn, another way of describing how a heroin addict thinks.

Something like this, I suspect, is what Ryan was referring to when he spoke of House Republican “growing pains.” Getting off the dope of viewing compromise as a dirty word.

A big part of addiction recovery is relating to others again, accepting that your views are not the only ones that matter, that you have to modify your behavior, answer to others who may not think like you.

It’s like governing.

It’s messy and ragged; it’s hard and far from perfect. It’s adult, in other words, and it’s the opposite of dope.


Filed under Culture, Dreamland, Drugs

9 Responses to House Republicans & Heroin

  1. Pingback: House Republicans & Heroin - Forward Kentucky

  2. Dawn

    Thank you, Sam! We need your voice.

  3. Alice Caroll

    The reason the GOP cannot create a working health care bill is because they are bought off by for-profit Big Pharma, Big Insurance and Big Hospital Groups. These groups are the reason that health care in the US is so costly (6X’s more than others) and mediocre, our care is ranked 37th in the world, tied with Cuba. (WHO) The only way we will ever be able to cover all our citizens is to get these entities out of health care. For profit means they must profit each year (20% is nice) for their shareholders. No wonder our care is so expensive! Insurance does not produce any care itself, it is a middleman that rations care. It decides what it will pay for and what procedures you are allowed to have. Big Pharma is allowed, by Congress to charge whatever they wish for their products. Big Hospital groups profit off the illness and misery of their patients. This is the state of health care. Politicians are listening to their benefactors who pay for their seat in Congress while the American people continue to be put on the back burner. I fear our Democracy has been sold to the highest bidder. We are talking about the health of our nation’s people! Are these politicians telling us that the profits of the health care industry are more important than our lives?

  4. Jeff

    We have to be held responsible for our behavior, but we also have to realize we don’t all have the same genetics and not of us respond to life in the same way. Let’s stop shaming one another and start understanding what we all need. There is a strong genetic component to addiction. Addicts aren’t just weak and selfish, they are physiologically different than those of us who are lucky enough to not have a risk of addiction.

  5. Jane Stacy

    I’m from Huntington WV. Yes heroin is so bad here. I read Dreamland twice. Very informative! Thanks for writing.

  6. Jeannie Crockett

    Bravo—well said.

  7. Joe Jeffries

    I agree with u to a point. I think the GOP is like an addict finally deciding on Vivitrol. Realizing it will take more than their own tunnel vision to get this done. And the current ACA is like a steady supply of oral buprenorphine; a feel good temporary fix, but not a long term solution. As your book says, the addiction crisis will take a community to fix. And so it will with health care. Nothing will happen so long as the GOP keeps calling Obamacare a disaster, and dems keep calling repubs the villains. Just like the heroin crisis needs less of “dig the hole deeper” and more understanding of this disease.

  8. Wow…Sam….great analogy! My question…will the Beast’s adoring constituents wake up? Perhaps not. Maybe they’re the drug dealers?

  9. Mary Jo Larkin

    So true, they remind me of my family members when they were withdrawing, do or say whateverit takes to get the deal done fast no matter the consequences

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