Alternate Reality IS Possible!
I hear a great deal from people who are conservatives. I don't mind criticism as long as it's constructive, but it's hardly the case, and often it's impossible to have any conversation because the currency of understanding is not reason. They tell me that it's freedom they want and that Obama's health care reform [I wish someone who has insider knowledge could tell us what exactly do the Dems in charge of our government want to do about giving the right to health care to every American] is socialism/communism--implying no choice. Notwithstanding that Medicare and health care for our military is socialized medicine, (same as public schools, and many other social programs), some people will never be convinced by reason and evidence. At least, our leaders could do something good for the commonwealth over the objections of the narrow special interests and those who promote ignorance.
The principle is simple to me: health care is a right not a privilege, and this country has the means to provide universal health care to all. We're wealthy enough, it's just a matter of priorities. I don't understand how we accept being behind 30+ countries when it comes to a healthy population, longevity, unnecessary suffering, and not the high level of quality of life we could have if the system and our government worked for the benefit of the great majority of Americans. [The World Health Organization ranks the US health care #37]
"We have the best health care in the world," I'm told by those who can afford it. It's like my cousin Bill Gates telling me, "don't worry, the two of us are worth $50 billion!" I also hear the word freedom mentioned in this debate. Before I got an education and began to dissect popular beliefs and popular expressions, freedom meant the ability to be free. But, freedom without meaningful action loses its meaning. If I keep you locked up without allowing any communication with the outside world, you can be "free" to say what ever you want. I could even allow you to read and watch whatever you want.
Conversely, being free to choose between Burger King and McDonald's, or between this minimum wage job and that minimum wage job isn't really a choice. We have this myth in this country that if you work hard enough, you can be anything you want. However you examine this myth it's not true on the aggregate. We like to believe that; it feels good. Sure, there are a few individuals who got lucky, yet for every Michael Jordan, for every Barack Obama, there are millions who can't advance not because of lack of skill or effort, but because of lack of opportunity. Just look as socio-economic mobility in the last 30 years in our country. Even the Europeans--with a much more rigid class system--are noticing that America isn't as egalitarian as we'd like to think.
Access to opportunity is what a good system should provide. Having more educated, healthier, more productive people is good for the whole country. But we don't seem to get the system to respond as much and as fast as it should. Then, again, we have leaders who actually make our lives worse. If I hadn't heard this myself, I wouldn't have believed it. Presidential candidate John McCain, (and most of the GOP leadership today) argue, without a shred of shame, that health care is a privilege and not a right. Just do your own research if you don't believe me. How can anyone say that and not booed out of town?..
Earlier this week, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) was asked by Charleston’s Post and Courier whether “people have a right to health care?”
DeMint is a leading voice of the conservatives in Congress, but, sadly, he's not the only one with such a view. The Repubs are willing to throw anything against any attempts for meaningful reform. They're now saying that those undocumented immigrants will get free health care and that should not happen under any circumstances. The Obama administration capitulated already on this point by saying no such proposal (to give free medical care to human beings who lack a piece of paper) is on the table. I mean, the audacity of those illegals who expect to be treated like human beings... We needed a work force, period. We didn't ask for ..human beings to come over! Maybe we didn't make that clear....
THE DANGER OF INACTION AND LACK OF DIRECTION [I almost said, lack of balls]
During the midterm elections, usually the party in power loses seats in Congress. With the GOP is such a disarray and increasingly becoming a regional, regressive party, there was hope that the Dems would escape the trend in 2010. It may not be the case, because the White House and the Congressional Dems are lost right now. They are bogged down in meaningless debate and cannot communicate a clear set of goals and show that their policies are helping most Americans. It's not too late to reverse this, but six months from now, it will be too late.
Most Americans now believe the country is on the wrong track! Check out the DailyKos poll. The Dems were up 12% points back in May, but now they're down to 6% over the Repubs. The latter have not gained [except a point with those over 60 and 2 points with Gen Xers] but the Dems have faltered, losing support in every demographic category. The young voters went from +30 to +37 for the Dems, but this is misleading since they Repubs are losing bigger numbers in this group. The independents are tuning out right now. With much lower participation numbers in midterm elections, the Dems might be bitterly surprised next year since the only motivated voters will be the conservatives who are energized and angry.
The president can recover in time for 2012 but the Dems will have no excuse if they fail. They were given big majorities in both chambers of Congress and control of the White House. This all in the span of 2 short years (2006-2008)--which is rather remarkable given the numbers they had in the House and the Senate just before the 2006 midterm election!
At any rate, a leader is judged by the effects of his policies and the leadership he exercises not by the "spirit of bi-partisanship" and trying endlessly to convince those who are fundamentally oppose him. Lincoln, FDR, Johnson--just to name a few who dared without having widespread support--were successful because their policies made a positive difference in the lives of most Americans. I hope Obama is a good and fast learner. Reid and Pelosi in Congress should do what's right with 218 and 50 votes respectively. The Repubs talked about the "nuclear option" and Republican Speaker Hastert [who learned from the disgraced Repub Speaker Gingrich] used to say that he was only interested in the ..majority of the majority.
Sometimes a dialogue just can't take place. It's not that people have different values and priorities--often the core of disagreement--but when some people make no sense, because they're being dishonest, then it's time to wrap up the "discussion" and take action. Obviously in a democracy, the voters will render a judgment on the effects of public policy. Now, can we please have some of that! Hurry. People are dying unnecessarily.
UPDATE: "White House: Obama may detail health plans soon," according to an AP report. I noticed the word "may" so I said something I don't want to repeat here. That's exactly my point about the lack of clarity and direction from the White House. They can't even say for sure whether the president will tell us what he wants to do! His chief of staff just said that the Repubs haven't negotiated in good faith! Com'on, man, faith is for those who give up reason and expect miracles... the kind of miracles only Jesus could allegedly perform. It's safe to assume that Obama is not Jesus and he can't turn water into wine no matter how much he tries or ..waits!
UPDATE 2: The amount of ignorance and misinformation in the media is amazing to me. Maria Bartiromo ["bright star" of CNBC--a colleague of Jim Cramer and other "experts" who went to bed with Wall Street and helped spread misinformation to the public... Just watch this video.] was interviewing A. Wiener (D-NY) about health care, and she sarcastically responded to his statement that people on public-run Medicare report high satisfaction rates."How come you don't use it [Medicare]? You don't have it. How come you don't have it?" she snickered. I guess she's not aware that only people over 65 can get it! I know the 45-year old NY Congressman and he doesn't look over 65.
Editor's note: The cartoon is by Arkas, and in case you haven't figured it out, if you have a vivid imagination anything is possible... like a desktop computer with a mouse!