This is the title of a summary of research sent me by a friend. Overall, the statistics show that when young people have health insurance, major decision nodes in their lives are strongly affected. Given time and some security, they postpone some actions, like marriage, childbirth, and cohabiting, and make greater and smarter efforts to order their lives and build solid futures for themselves and their well-planned families.
So why do conservatives oppose Obamacare? It is because of just these effects. Conservatives are skeptical of and nervous about young people taking their lives in their own hands. Why is this? One word:
Patriarchy. Closely allied to and supporting patriarchy is the dominant religions among conservative voters: Evangelicalism and Catholicism. Both sport patriarchy as the foundation of the society they wish for, one of hierarchy and order.
There is nothing wrong with hierarchy and order as such; the later is required for a firm basis for all activities and the former is a natural outcome of social organization. Problems develop when the hierarchy becomes rigid and order is invoked to maintain that hierarchy. We’ve seen it often: I remember a friend who, in anguished tones, implored my wife to be patient, as a Black person in the 60s, to be patient. Martin Luther King answered that plea with a resounding Why We Can’t Wait.
How does patriarchy work out in practice? An interlocking set of beliefs and practices shore up the authority of figures who draw on tradition and theological principles to confirm the right of some to lead and the duty of others to follow. Any disruption of this pattern of belief and behavior is decried as a threat to order. Fear is the emotional basis of reaction to threat. Look at the imagery Christians use: the king, the lord, the god is angry, punishment awaits those who fail to follow (see, even I fall into biblical language), vengeance of the omnipotent god is terrible, and so on. But if you follow and submit to order and the hierarchy, you will be protected and taken care of, even cherished. Such is the carrot held out to followers by those who are savvy enough and cynical enough to see through the hoax and manipulate the system to their own benefit.
The ACA aka Obamacare threatens this set of cultural norms by allowing people to independently decide for themselves how to construct their lives. The church, the civil authorities, the economically dominant, all want the right to construct those lives in order to maintain themselves and their positions in the hierarchy. They require order as expressed by obedience, by following, by submission to authority.
Now I asked how this works out in real life. Obviously, most people don’t go around with such ideas in their heads, although quite a few of the dominant elements in our society have written books expressing these very ideas. They seek moral authority in order to order aka control society, often having grown up in an environment where they are told that is their duty as well as their right. Without their superior abilities, the “lower orders” would descend into chaos. Here you can see the roots of calls for law and order as well as the emphasis public intellectuals like Charles Murray put on the dangers of allowing those lower orders aka less intelligent aka scoring low on IQ tests to have a strong voice in the affairs of state. A look at aristocracies, oligarchies, monarchies, dictatorships, autocracies and theocracies will tell you two things: they are all plutocracies as well plus they are self-justifying. Elaborate systems of philosophy and theology undergirded earlier governments of these types and now economic and political science theories do the same. Because many of those inhabiting these rarefied layers of society, the “directorate”, we might call them, are educated and sincere people, they often do provide support to society, but just the society they are charged with maintaining.
When someone comes along out of this class and decides things need to change, we have an insider; when someone comes along from outside this class, we have an outsider. When both combine into a movement, we often see dramatic change, even revolutionary change. Most of our major upheavals in our society have come from insiders, FDR, JFK, or outsiders, LBJ, who knew about the other, the insider who intuited what the outsiders wanted and the outsider who intuited what the insiders could do. One of the great losses was HRC not getting the presidency; she was an outsider in a class sense who knew the inside so well most people thought of her as only an insider, forgetting her origins. The ability to bring outsiders and insiders together is crucial for making major changes like health care for everyone, a little money to live on in old age, universal education, universal military service, and so forth.
The patriarchy does not release its grip on power without someone prying it from them. This patriarchy is embedded in our culture through religion, education, literature, economic and political structures, and more. Yet each of those can produce a change agent – an MLK, a liberal arts education, a Harriet Beecher Stowe, labor unions, democracy, and more. Did the Founding Fathers realize they had embedded the seeds of the destruction of the patriarchal propertied White class in their Constitution, the every-expanding franchise which led to ever-expanding rights? I need to read the Federalist Papers and more books on that never-ending enterprise. Like our Civil War and WW II, it is a unending source of new insights. Maybe that class, which still clings to power despite sexual harassment charges and a bad press, will eventually wither away, Marxian-like. Oops, bad reference.