This week I'm checking an item off the bucket list: assigning Watchmen to a bunch of college students and getting paid to talk about it. It's a delightful tale of – spoiler! – the dangers inherent in disregarding all morality to further what one perception of the greater good. A story in which deeply flawed characters, and one in particular, act on the belief that they've figured out what's best for society is a compelling way to explore ends-justify-means morality. It might even be applicable to current events. Somehow.
The House Republicans' position for the past few weeks is simple to understand: They've decided that health care reform shouldn't happen and it's OK to subvert the democratic process or fly the economy into a skyscraper in order to stop it because goddammit we're right. They know better than the courts, the president, the voters, or the Congress that passed the law. They have Truth and Rightness and Freedom and Bald Eagles on their side, so anything they do is justified. If people end up dying, so be it. They can make a disingenuous "I've made myself feel every death… see every innocent face I've murdered to save humanity" speech when their imagined victory comes.
Conservatives are motivated solely by fear. That's it. Fear of the unknown, fear of things that are different, fear of change, fear that the government is coming to take what they inherited, and fear of a world in which they're not guaranteed social superiority and the institutions of society do not cater to them. Right now they're afraid and they've talked themselves into a pseudo-religious frenzy to (over) compensate for it. The House Republican caucus looks like a group of kamikaze pilots attending their own funeral before their voyage into immortality. True, the actual kamikazes just flew obsolete planes into the ocean and accomplished nothing. But this time will be different!
What they're afraid of is simple: they are afraid that everyone is about to discover how full of shit they are. This pattern repeats itself. Think about every time there have been changes to the legal status of gays and lesbians. The right has predicted the downfall of western civilization each time, and each time the law changes and…crickets. Tumbleweeds. Nothing happens. It turns out that the military wasn't brought to its knees by the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell". The troops are not too busy cross-dressing and 69ing each other to do their jobs. All of their dire end-of-world predictions came to absolutely nothing. And that's what will happen again when this law goes into effect. More people will funnel money toward insurers – Remember how the Commie Socialist law is actually a handjob for the insurance industry? – and more people will enjoy the same frustrating, generally lousy, better-than-nothing health insurance that the rest of us have.
The death panels, the rationing, the six-month waits to see a doctor (which people with HMOs already have, but I digress), the skyrocketing costs, the doctors going out of business…none of it is going to happen. The Republicans are now backed into a corner; they are forced to recognize among themselves that they've been feeding the public a giant ration (see what I did there?) of horseshit at the behest of their beloved Job Creators and now the jig is up. They absolutely must stop the law at all costs or else face a future of half-assed explanations to Fox News hosts about why the dire predictions didn't come to pass. Maybe Dr. Manhattan/Ronald Reagan saved America with his super powers.
Because they're afraid they've convinced themselves that this is a jihad, an epic quest of principle and morality. In reality it is nothing more than a political ploy, a smattering of dilatory tactics arising from too many late-night masturbation sessions with a copy of Robert's Rules of Order during their formative years interning for the Heritage Foundation and dad's company. The only principle at play here is the basest kind of self-interest; they are terrified to be revealed for what they really are, and now they are scrambling. At first glance they might appear to be willing to burn down the village in order to save it. In reality, they're willing to burn it down in order to save themselves.