Published in Dissent, A quarterly of Politics and
by Colin Gordon - October 15, 2013
The federal government shutdown that started on October 1 resulted in a telling virtual irony. Thanks to the standoff in Congress, the government’s web presence—from the Census Bureau data portal to the National Zoo’s “pandacam”—was replaced by “Sorry, back soon” screenshots. Meanwhile, the website associated with the Affordable Care Act (the original object of the standoff) ran out of bandwidth due to overwhelming interest in the new health insurance exchanges. It was as if Congress closed the pool because they thought they saw a turd floating in the shallow end, and everyone jumped in anyway because they knew it was really a chocolate bar.
A larger irony is that the ACA is about as far from a government takeover of health care or the “final leap to socialism” (as Michele Bachmann sees it) as one can imagine. Such hyperbole is now about a century old.