Traveling through California for the past dozen days, I got to hear plenty of talk radio rage, bogus advertizing about evil socialized rationing and view a bit of in-your-face hate at town hall meetings screaming across airport FOX and CNN monitors. What happened to civil discourse; what happened to public debate; what happened to using facts in a discussion?
The answer is very simple. Civil discourse, public debate, and fact based discussions are all useful in solving problems and developing solution agendas to critical issues. These types of conversations are rooted in recognizing challenges and moving toward resolution of matters for the common good. The aim of health care reform opponents is to first stifle and then kill debate.
It is the politics of selfishness.
One cannot say there is a problem and refuse to seek a solution in good faith, better to scream about euthanasia. One cannot fully hear the case for reform and not understand the suffering and inequality that the current system engenders, better to mislead with a rabid argument about evil socialism. One cannot consider the critical facts about health care insurance manipulation, lack of access, unfair denial of care, and medical bankruptcy without realizing the justifiable necessity for reform, better to shout down a Representative.
Yet the health care problem has been recognized and escalating for decades, the facts have been compiled and visible for years, and various positive outcome solutions have been evident to all throughout an entire presidential campaign. We also had reasonable due diligence debate in that campaign and appropriate legislative time in the immediate past Congressional session. The lobbyist bill delaying tactics in Congress were orchestrated by those who did not really want time to “get it right” but rather to “make it wrong”. That delay was instrumental in spawning this summer of destruction. The present shotgun approach to blasting away at reform is in full swing courtesy of talk radio, FOX “news”, and the national Republican Party.
Destroying all reform efforts is the aim now of the selfish. The extreme right may eventually condescend to clothe a tiny bit of health care in a weak non-reform bill if appearances prove politically useful to them beyond heroically defeating socialism, protecting the eternal good of market capital forces that always seeks the most efficient use of resources, preventing Canadian-European-every other developed nation style scary rationing in favor of our always superior because-we-say-so American health care system that ferrets out the shiftless lazy welfare and illegal immigrant parasites, and preserves choice that is great for hard workers who always magically will get ahead somehow even in our present economic disaster in which irresponsible victims are always personally culpable for their own demise.
What should supporters of substantive health care reform do? We must push extremely hard to the bitter end. Senators Snowe and Collins need to be continually pressured by our fact based and solution oriented arguments without any let up. We will not drown out the raging right and we can let them risk drowning themselves in their fanaticism. Our reasoned message continually directed at our representatives and through public forums is strategically better than wasting too much energy on answering the promoters of selfishness. They unmask themselves. They could even aid in driving our representatives toward us. The steady consistent stream of our message needs to keep flowing.
On a Yosemite National Park bus weaving around mountain curves I wondered what would happen if we rolled off the road and everyone simply broke a leg. My wife and I would be fine with our insurance though surely there would be away from home coverage communications complications to plow through and perhaps a few hidden costs. But would the woman sitting next to my wife with the cane and obvious disability have some sort of curious pre-existing clause to deal with if a complication arose? Would the large Hispanic family in the back of the bus have the same outcomes medically and financially as the obviously middle class family of four in the front of the bus? Is the older gentleman driving the bus a part time or seasonal employee without insurance or is he fortunately old enough to qualify for single payer Medicare? Will the couple next to me, him sporting the Rolex and her bedecked with jewels, be treated differently than the other occupants? The answers to these misgivings are within a moral message that trumps selfishness.