The Tea Party continues to destroy the Republican Party as New Hampshire state Rep. William O’Brien claims Obamacare is every bit as bad as the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. Wow, the Fugitive Slave Act? The extremists in the Republican Party can’t get any lower than this. Wait. They did. The government shutdown that will see 800,000 workers furloughed is as low as you can go.
President Obama mocked O’Brien for his ridiculous comments, which have been hyped by the Drudge Report. During a speech at Prince George’s Community College in Maryland last Thursday, President Obama said, “You had a state representative somewhere say that it’s ‘as destructive to personal and individual liberty as the Fugitive Slave Act.’ Think about that: Affordable healthcare is worse than a law that lets slaveowners get their runaway slaves back. I mean, these are quotes. I’m not making this stuff up.”
In case Rep. William O’Brien doesn’t know, the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 declared that all runaway slaves were, upon capture, to be returned to their masters. It was dubbed the “Bloodhound Law” by abolitionists because of the dogs that were used to track down runaway slaves. So, how is Obamacare comparable?
In what may be the party’s lowest moment throughout this debacle, Republican State Representative William O’Brien of New Hampshire, said Obamacare is every bit as bad as the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. President Obama naturally scoffed at the very idea, but O’Brien defended the analogy. “Just as the Fugitive Slave Act was an overreach by the federal government,” he told the Manchester Union Leader, “so too we understand that Obamacare is an assault on the rights of individuals.” That claim explains a lot about right wing thinking, where callousness toward universal health care is exceeded only by ignorance of slavery.
Perhaps the phrase “just as” can be used as an incantation in Tea Party rhetoric, magically tying their own narrow political goals to universal values. But in the real world – the one informed by actual history and human experience – there is no meaningful similarity between slavery and health insurance (apart from the fact that both have been the subject of federal legislation). The very comparison is deeply insulting to human rights. Slavery was an evil system of unspeakable brutality, while national health insurance, at the very worst, involves a little bit of additional bureaucracy.
Race is a very touchy subject for many in this country, but it seems that the Tea Party doesn’t shy away from using it as the basis, subtly, in their dogfights. I don’t recall when former president Bill Clinton tried to pass universal healthcare any Republican invoked the Fugitive Slave Act.
This was cross-posted from The Hinterland Gazette.
graphic via shutterstock.com