A Conservative Case for Universal Healthcare

By Graham Glover

Universal healthcare. The mere mention of the idea is enough to bring a smile to a liberal and a scowl to a conservative.

Outside of the immigration debate, I don’t think there is an issue that divides the electorate more than whether the United States federal government should provide healthcare to all its citizens. Obama won two elections because of his promise to provide universal healthcare. One could argue that Trump won an election because of his promise to repeal it.

Conventional political wisdom says that liberals support it and conservatives do not. But I think that wisdom should no longer apply. I think it’s time for conservatives to abandon their fight against universal healthcare, and instead embrace the idea, hijacking the issue and the conversation from the liberals.

For the past 40 years, liberals have dominated the health care debate. They have shaped the dialogue, and despite the actions of the House of Representatives this past week, have swung public opinion in favor of universal healthcare. There are going to be changes to the Affordable Care Act when the Republicans finally figure out how to govern as the majority party. Some changes are clearly necessary. But it is sheer political fantasy to think we will ever go back to the healthcare industry as it was 8 years ago. Universal healthcare, of some variety, is here to stay. And truth be told, I think a comprehensive single payer system is where we’ll ultimately end up.

Conservatives may not like where the pendulum has swung on this issue, but they need not capitulate. What they need to do is reshape the conversation moving forward.

By letting liberals shape the healthcare debate, we are now in a situation where people talk about healthcare as a right. This is political absurdity at its finest. It’s reasonable to suggest that the government has a responsibility to ensure all its citizens have healthcare, but equating this to an inalienable right makes those rights that mean something (life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness), ultimately inconsequential. We are also in a place where supporting universal healthcare means you support medical services that are elective in nature. Universal healthcare should solely have in mind keeping people from getting sick and making them better when they become ill. Elective procedures, to include birth control of any variety, gender modification, sexual enhancement drugs, cosmetic surgery, etc., should have nothing to do with providing healthcare to the American citizenry. Ever.

Conservatives can make universal healthcare their issue by making it one of substance rather than ideology. Emotional platitudes and political gamesmanship should give way to a policy whose only purpose is the guarantee that every American citizen, from the time they are conceived until the time they die, has medical care. That’s it. A simple, albeit complex contract between the American government and its people. A contract that is focused on maintaining a healthy populous and a healthy economy, neither of which can ever be fully realized without universal coverage.

Universal healthcare can become the conservative issue when it becomes one of pragmatics and economics – when it becomes one of national pride and sovereignty. Conservatives talk a lot about conserving the ideals of the American republic and I can’t think of a better place to conserve these ideals that in a system that ensures healthcare for all its citizens.

Not convinced? Try this bumper sticker on for size:

Universal Healthcare – Making America Great Again!

I think it’s a winner, for the sticker industry and the conservative movement.