What Ted Cruz Doesn't Understand About Green Eggs and Ham

A blog about business and economics.
Sept. 24 2013 9:10 PM

What Ted Cruz Doesn't Understand About Green Eggs and Ham

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I could not, would not, on a boat.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

As part of his fake filibuster today, Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) read aloud the text of Dr. Seuss's book Green Eggs and Ham. It's a strange choice of author for a conservative senator. Admittedly, Green Eggs and Ham lacks the overt left-wing politics of a Butter Battle Book or The Lorax but this is still a progressive book. In broad strokes, it's a book advocating openness to experience—one of the key moral dimensions on which liberals and conservatives differ.

In the specific context of the health care debate, though, I'm reminded of Nancy Pelosi's much-mocked remark that "We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it."

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What she was expressing was the idea that while the health reform bill may not have been popular, the health reform law would prove popular in practice once it was in effect. People would like their subsidies and their regulatory protections, and wouldn't want to see them repealed. She was making, specificaly, a kind of Green Eggs and Ham argument. The narrator keeps insisting that he hates green eggs and ham, but he's never had green eggs and ham. When he finally tries them—he likes them!

The Democrats' bet on the Affordable Care Act is that it's like green eggs and ham—they're convinced the public will like it when they try it.

Conservatives like Cruz claim that this is wrong. That Americans will taste the green eggs and ham and they're going to hate it. But their actions speak otherwise. They're desperate to repeal the law before it's implemented. And in terms of the 2012 elections, that was fair enough. But they lost in 2012. Now instead of acting like they're confident that the voter backlash to the green eggs and ham will power them to victories in 2014 and 2016, they're engaging in flailing desperate tactics to make sure nobody tries the green eggs and ham. Because deep down they fear that Dr. Seuss was right.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

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