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Rick Santorum Compares Obamacare To Apartheid

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"Rick Santorum Compares Obamacare To Apartheid"

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Rick Santorum

Rick Santorum, the erstwhile Republican presidential candidate with a penchant for controversy, appeared on Fox News’ O’Reilly Factor on Thursday night and memorialized the passing of South African leader and global visionary Nelson Mandela by equating Obamacare with apartheid.

Praising Mandela for standing up to a “great injustice,” the former Pennsylvania senator continued by ascribing his own conservative principles to the civil rights pioneer:

Nelson Mandela stood up against a great injustice and was willing to pay a huge price for that, and that’s the reason he is mourned today, because of that struggle that he performed…and I would make the argument that we have a great injustice going on right now in this country with an ever increasing size of government that is taking over and controlling people’s lives, and Obamacare is front and center in that.

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Comparing apartheid — the systematic, institutionalized segregation of the black population of South Africa — to Obamacare — the signature legislative achievement of the United States’ first black president — is among the worst reactions by conservatives to the news of Mandela’s passing. And implying that Mandela would have opposed legislation like the Affordable Care Act is to ignore the reality of the health care system that Mandela himself fought for.

After bringing an end to apartheid rule, Mandela enshrined in the new South African constitution a fundamental right to health care for all citizens, and introduced a government-funded public health care system to help cover those who could not afford the private system already in place. That was the foundation for a new universal health care system the country unveiled two years ago, which is now expanding to cover the entire country by 2026.

This is not the first time conservatives have attempted to claim a fallen progressive icon as one of their own. Other figures like Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr. have also been co-opted by the Republican Party in an attempt to re-write history.

O’Reilly, for his part, commemorated Mandela as a “great man” despite being “a communist.”

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