Most days, former President Barack Obama must go to bed fairly pissed off at how much damage Republicans are doing to America with the explicit goal of erasing his presidency. Other nights, he must go to bed laughing that it's not really working the way they'd hoped it would:
A vast majority — 70 percent — of Americans in a new poll supports "Medicare for all," also known as a single-payer health-care system.
The Reuters–Ipsos survey found 85 percent of Democrats said they support the policy along with 52 percent of Republicans.
That is what is known as a shift in the Overton Window, when the range of socially acceptable ideas moves or expands. And, oh boy, has it shifted because of Obamacare. It doesn't matter if you hate the law because something something "it's not good enough"; it's saved hundreds of thousands of lives, completely changed the national conversation, and paved the way for single payer. Not bad for an "evil corporate giveaway".
Once upon a time, say, before 2009, people accepted the idea that healthcare was a privilege. They were resigned to insurance companies having all the power. Your insurance didn't cover most procedures? Oh well, tough noogies. Your deductible was $10,000 and you were already paying $900 a month? Sucks for you. You got cancer and your insurer just canceled your policy because you had acne (true story)? Better luck next life.
But something happened after 2009 that changed the way people thought and talked about healthcare. It went from being a "privilege" to being a "right". People decided that it was no longer acceptable for people to die of preventable diseases or conditions because treating them wasn't profitable. They decided that, hey, maybe if every other country in the world (except 3 or 4) can have universal healthcare, the richest country to ever exist in the history of humanity should probably have it, too.
There are those who will give the credit to Bernie Sanders and that's a nice story. Not sure how that explains the 52% of Republicans that now support Medicare for all, though. On the other hand, several years of having a national conversation about expanding healthcare coverage that exposed just how rotten and corrupt the health insurance industry is probably had a much larger impact. Also having 30+ million people be able to get insurance for the first, knowing your children will remain covered until they're 26, the fact that junk insurance that didn't cover anything ceased to exist, the end of pre-existing condition discrimination, and so on and so forth, etc. etc. etc.
All of this and more permanently altered our perception of healthcare in America. Bernie was certainly a booster shot but the heavy lifting all came from the Affordable Care Act. It's not possible to talk about Medicare for all until people understand healthcare as a right for everyone, not just the elderly. Obamacare made that happen and that's why Republicans have spent hundreds of millions of dollars and a full decade to destroy it. Not just because they're wretched and soulless monsters that get off on watching people suffer but because they know the longer Obamacare exists, the further the Overton Window will move towards some version of single payer healthcare and the more impossible it will be to move it back. For a group of people whose entire ideology revolves around destroying government, this is intolerable.
But some ideas, once planted, take on a life of their own and no matter how much propaganda Fox News spins for its audience, America is never going to go back to believing that we don't deserve healthcare unless insurance company CEOs can buy a new superyacht every year to go with their new private island. Healthcare is a right and it took Obamacare to make us see that.