John McCain saved the Affordable Care Act.
He gallantly marched back into DC after his diagnosis with brain cancer. He broke ranks with his Republican caucus. He voted No on “Skinny Repeal” against the behest of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. He is a hero for all Americans now because one man ensured millions would maintain their health care.
Well. Except of course for these women:
It may surprise some to know Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska (above, L-R) also voted against the repeal. And they have been voting No on any measure which would have seen tens of millions of Americans thrown off of their health care since the saga of repealing intensified in January.
While McCain received applause and cheers from the Senate chamber, Collins and Murkowski went back to work. For Democrats, they have a new hero and supposed ally in McCain, who offered that his change of vote was simply the right thing to do. We’ll of course ignore all those other times he went along with McConnell, with Trump, to end an act which brought millions into the health care system.
McCain should be acknowledged for eventually coming to the right decision, but he should not be lauded. McCain, the maverick man from Arizona, should have had more steel in opposing a measure denying millions of Americans access to health care when it was the right thing to do. Access was denied under every replacement plan offered by Republicans in both the House and Senate. So why now, when the Skinny Repeal wasn’t one step too far, but rather the same step in a different shoe?
We are in a culture where men can do 99 bad things, with the hundredth attempt they are praised by those on all sides. For women it is often the exact opposite. While none of the three Republican senators did this to win over praise, the one who was placed upon a pedestal by the media has done little to brush it off.
Collins, the woman dubbed the only true moderate in the Senate, came out against the earliest versions of the bill and stayed true to her convictions through every subsequent form of the bill. She was also one of only two Senators to vote against the motion to allow Trumpcare – a bill without any specific direction – on to the floor for debate; Senator Murkowski was the second.
Both women, although staunchly conservative in their personal politics (Collins eventually voted against the ACA in 2009 after much discussion and debate; Murkowski made clear her openness to repeal and replace on a well-worked bill), have received threats from male colleagues in the House. Murkowski has had her state of Alaska threatened by the executive branch, promising to withhold road projects and drilling rights should the Senator not change her vote.
But Maverick McCain is the nation’s savior. Fifty votes came before his, and actually allowed him to achieve his win, but the focus is solely on an old man who changed his mind on something which should never have needed changing to begin with.
Obamacare is hated because of the Obama factor. Spin it however you like, no one wants health care taken from some twenty million people. The protests from all political sides proved this. People want better, affordable care options, as do many in Congress, Democrats and Republicans, who think the ACA should be simpler and more accessible. But the fight was for repeal and repeal alone. Otherwise the all-important details of the bill would have been readily available. The Republicans had no decisive points to share on the legislation, other than, “Obamacare is bad, we need better care, more to come.” The bill was about removal, expunging and ending the talisman of the Obama administration. And McCain was cool with all that.
We don’t know what finally changed the Maverick’s mind, just that he’s been rewarded with all the good graces and political capital afforded him. He is excused for having ever voted in favor of the bill’s prior iterations. Murkowski and Collins, however, pushed on. They want better health care, with or without the ACA, but not at the expense of people. They’ve proved they’re willing to discuss openly, but they won’t cave to Trump like their male counterparts, nor be intimidated by their sexist comments, bullying and threats.
Women saved health care for millions, and did so without the fawning admiration or applause given to men in power. For Collins and Murkowski, it’s back to business as usual, and on to the next item on their agenda.