Most average citizens have neither the time nor the inclination to engage in political issues as complex as the healthcare debate, but recent events have prompted a resurgence of grassroots activism throughout the country.
For the most part, we've been comfortable allowing our elected officials to sort out the details of such things. We've trusted their motivations and had faith in their promise to uphold the values of the constituents placing them into office. Unfortunately, that's no longer the case. The political disconnect between Washington and Main Street continues to widen, and people have been forced to take their fights to the streets of cities and small towns throughout the country.
For the left, their feelings of unrest probably began around the time of the infamous "stolen election" of 2000, and the following eight years of untreated Bush Derangement Syndrome. Most on the right had been complacent during that time, but the once-silent majority has recently awakened to a brave new world, and they're pretty darn ticked off.
Is there a saturation point, or is this the new political diagnosis Americans will be forced to live with in the years ahead? Will future healthcare plans (government or private) cover ‘single payer psychosis' or ‘frozen brain syndrome' for anyone attempting to read this mind numbing 1,000-page monstrosity our Congress is putting forth?
We've been inundated with conflicting information from all sides; heart-wrenching stories of hopelessness, elderly people lining up to die with dignity, and radical claims of jack-booted government storm troopers with the occasional Nazi propagandist thrown in for good measure.
Does the truth rest peacefully somewhere in the middle, just waiting to be discovered? Is there a way to stitch this divide and heal the wounds inflicted by so many sharp words lobbed carelessly over political walls, or the onslaught of media shrapnel exploding from ourTV sets each night?
Sadly, no. I think war is inevitable, and peace will come only when we band together once again to sort through the rubble and pick up the pieces.
The labels come easy as Mr. Alinski has taught us (I'm still partial to "bitter clinger" although "racist Nazi" is always a close second); the difficult part is getting beyond all the rhetoric and actually examining the facts.
Admittedly, it can sometimes be difficult to sort out what's real and what's hype as the American College of Surgeons comments:
When the President makes statements that are incorrect or not based in fact, we think he does a disservice to the American people at a time when they want clear, understandable facts about health care reform.
Confronting the healthcare issue often leads down some obvious side roads and it's easy to get diverted from the basic conservative principles of smaller government, lower taxes and greater personal liberties. Things are easily brushed aside and dismissed when they do not conform to the specific templates of someone else's thinking — particularly given the fever amongst the politically uninformed these days.
Most conservatives understand exactly what Sarah Palin was referring to with her "death panels" comment, but such remarks are easily misconstrued and amount to little more than political fodder for the media and late night comedians. Although reported as yet another example of right-wing lunacy, it's strange that this "non-existent" item was officially dropped from the healthcare bill last week.
In the midst of all this controversy, we have numerous other distractions such as the White House "snitch list." The fact that our government has asked citizens to contact them when they encounter emails or casual conversations about healthcare that seem "fishy" does seem eerily strange given all the talk of Nazis being bantered about. Even the ACLU begrudgingly admitted this was "a bad idea that could send a troublesome message."
The action has absolutely nothing to do with the specifics of the healthcare debate; it's just wrong, "big-brotherish" and entirely unnecessary when we should be having open discussions on the more important issues facing our country. Although quickly dismissed by every liberal I've spoken with, you can bet your insurance cards that if GW Bush or Dick Cheney had started such a program, the left would still be having a conniption fit about it.
Sen. John Cornyn:
The question is not what the White House is doing, but how and why. How are they purging names and e-mail addresses from this account to protect privacy? Why do they need the forwarded e-mails, names, and ‘casual conversations’ sent to them instead of just the arguments that they want to rebut?
In the same vein, we have the OMB's recently proposed change in policy permitting the broad use of tracking cookies on government Web sites, the ACLU has filed suit on 8/10 stating that these changes "would pose a serious threat to American's personal information."
Acting ACLU director Michael Macleod-Ball states:
We have SEIU thugs intimidating townhall protesters after Deputy White House Chief of Staff Jim Messina told a group of Democratic senators: "If you get hit, we will punch back twice as hard."
Downstate, SEIU members were bussed in for a healthcare rally at Rep. Mark Schauer’s office.
We have numerous instances of White House plants at various townhall gatherings such as the following:
Obama delegate and “Organize for America” member claims to be a sympathetic doctor (though she's not) at a Sheila Jackson Lee townhall meeting.
In Annandale, Va., Obama hugs one speaker and calls her "exhibit A" in a weak health care system. Turns out she is also a member of Organizing for America and received her ticket directly from the White House.
The questions posed from social media networks were selected by White House staffers, and the three people he called on from the audience all were affiliated with advocacy groups that support Obama. Smith said the White House invited her to attend after she had spoken at events for Organizing for America, an Obama grassroots operation at the Democratic National Committee. Another questioner said he worked for Health Care for America Now, and the third identified herself as a member of the Service Employees International Union.
Some are claiming that one man carrying an “Obama as Hitler” poster at a John Dingell rally actually works for Dingell.
None of this is related to the issue of healthcare, but if true, these tactics speak for themselves. This is an important subject, why all the obfuscation and misdirection? Again, we're traveling down one of those side roads.
I'm curious if those supporting the concept of government-controlled healthcare are really comfortable with the following quotes (now conveniently recanted) from President Obama's chief health-care policy adviser, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel (Rahm's brother):
These are the condensed versions, full text here:
Doctors take the Hippocratic Oath too seriously, as an imperative to do everything for the patient regardless of the cost or effects on others.
[the complete lives system] empowers us to decide fairly whom to save when genuine scarcity makes saving everyone impossible”
Treating 65-year olds differently because of stereotypes or falsehoods would be ageist; treating them differently because they have already had more life-years is not.
When implemented, the complete lives system produces a priority curve on which individuals aged between roughly 15 and 40 years get the most substantial chance.
Every favor to a constituency should be linked to support for the health-care reform agenda. If the automakers want a bailout, then they and their suppliers have to agree to support and lobby for the administration’s health-reform effort.
Adolescents have received substantial education and parental care, investments that will be wasted without a complete life. Infants, by contrast, have not yet received these investments.
Lest we forget, the president himself suggested during ABC's "White House forum on health" that he would go outside the constraints of a nationalized system to get the “very best care” if necessary for his own family.
Whether all of this chaos regarding the future of health care in America stems from the best intentions of our most caring citizens or the nefarious plans of those seeking to overhaul our current system of government, it's beyond me how any rational person can have faith in our elected officials and their ability to manage such an undertaking.
How on earth are we going to be able to afford something that even the CBO places as well beyond our means (at least a trillion dollars so far)? Can anyone point to ANY credible example of government healthcare that rivals what we currently have here? If so, are that country's citizens still flocking to the United States when they need quality care?
Three big lies about Obama's healthcare reform, taken from CATO, full text here.
“If you like your current health-care plan, you can keep it.” Even White House spokesmen have said that Obama’s oft-repeated pledge that you can keep your current insurance isn’t meant to be taken literally. The reality is that millions of Americans â€” perhaps most Americans â€” will be forced to change insurance plans.
“You will pay less.” The Congressional Budget Office has made it clear that the reform plans now being debated will increase overall healthcare costs, yet President Obama on Friday repeatedly said that his reform would reduce costs and save Americans money.
“Quality will improve.” Anyone who thinks a government takeover of the healthcare system will improve quality of care has only to look at the healthcare programs the government already runs: The Veterans Administration is overwhelmed with problems, Medicaid is notorious for providing poor quality at a high cost, and Medicare has huge gaps in coverage.
According to Republican leaders at house.gov:
1. A Government Takeover of Health Care. The House Democrats' plan will create a new government-run program, will make health care more expensive, limit treatments and ration care, and put bureaucrats in charge of medical decisions rather than patients and doctors. Translation: higher costs, lower quality, and fewer choices for patients.
2. Forcing More than 100 Million Out of their Health Care. The House Democrats' plan will force more than 100 million Americans out of their current health care plan and onto the government rolls. A Lewin Group study confirms that under a new government-run health plan millions will lose their current health care coverage.
3. Rationing Health Care Treatments. The House Democrats' plan establishes an "advisory committee" that will put bureaucrats and politicians in charge of deciding patient treatments and cures. Translation: The government will make health care treatment decisions rather than doctors and patients.
4. A New Mandate on Individuals. The House Democrats' plan mandates that every American buy health insurance or pay a hefty tax to Washington. This would force more Americans into government-run system that will make health care more expensive, ration care, and put bureaucrats in charge of medical decisions.
5. A New Mandate on Employers. The House Democrats' plan would impose employer mandates and cost jobs by requiring some employers — especially small businesses — to pay a new tax to Washington. The plan would also slap employers that are unable to offer coverage the government deems adequate with another new tax to Washington. These two new taxes will make it more difficult than ever for small business owners to reinvest in their businesses and create and retain good paying jobs.
6. Harming Small Businesses. The House Democrats' plan doesn't yet define "small businesses," which is troubling news for millions of Americans who depend on these engines of economic growth. One Democratic draft plan revealed to date only provides assistance to ease employer mandates for small businesses with an average of 27 or fewer employees. This leaves a huge number of small businesses to deal with the onerous and expensive mandates of the Democrats' government defined health benefit plan ("small businesses" are traditionally defined as employing less than 500 people).
7. Expanding Entitlements. The House Democrats' plan expands the Medicare and Medicaid programs without reform, ignoring the pending insolvency of programs that millions of seniors and families rely upon. These policies will result in benefit cuts and premium increases for many Americans who depend on these programs.
8. Unfunded Mandates on States. The House Democrats' plan creates new unfunded mandates for already cash-strapped states by expanding Medicaid, forcing both the federal government and states to pay more to finance this entitlement expansion. This will leave states no choice but to raise taxes or reduce services for citizens of those states.
9. How Many Taxes Will Democrats Raise? The House Democrats' plan expands benefits and includes massive new subsidies and government-dictated benefits, but it doesn't identify any significant savings to help pay for the new scheme, nor does it acknowledge the massive new costs it will impose on individuals, employers, and states. In the past, Democrats promised a series of new tax hikes to pay for their plan. How many will there be? When do Democrats plan to reveal them?
10. Shifts Massive New Costs onto Taxpayers. The House Democrats' plan represents a bait-and-switch that will make health care more expensive and hit the middle class particularly hard with higher taxes, rationed care, and new health costs. As millions of middle-class families are struggling to make ends meet while making responsible choices, this plan forces those that make responsible decisions to foot the bill for those who don't.
Are these points merely the ridiculous fear mongering of rabid conservatives? Are they simply the incendiary tactics of the callous right or are they legitimate concerns that should and must be fully addressed before we send this 1,000 page monster through and sacrifice the blood, sweat & tears of our children and grandchildren for generations to come? Whether or not you agree with all of those Republican points, they should be addressed and they'd be a fine place to start.
To dismiss all dissenting voices with a condescending wave of the hand seems simplistic and relies too much on a consensus of hypocrisy given the transgressions by both parties over the years. I have no problem examining Bush/Republican mistakes — they're certainly in the hundreds — but we're not going to get anywhere as long as Mr. Obama and our Democrat-controlled congress remain above reproach in the eyes of so many.
If those people want to make a serious case for some sort of socialistic hybrid, that's all well and good, but to deny that major changes are underway would seem to be naÃ¯ve given the actual events of late. Both the scope and power of our government have grown enormously over the last year (GW Bush got the ball rolling!).
Our government now seeks to limit the salaries of American citizens. You can say it's "just" or "the right thing to do," but that's not supposed to happen in America… is it? Our government has seized some companies outright and completely shut down others. We're now into the banks, the mortgage and insurance companies and the auto industry. How's Amtrak working out?
We're appointing unaccountable and unvetted Czars like crazy and burning through money we do not have like there's no tomorrow. Where's all the outrage that we heard about Bush's paltry deficit? For a nice visualization of our country's "debt car," I'd encourage readers to view this short video.
We're trillions of dollars in debt and borrowing money from China hand over fist, yet Senators continue to pass through massive, budget-busting bills which they openly admit they haven't even read.
Better yet, Congress has hired speed-readers in a ridiculous effort to conform to protocol. Is this some kind of joke? Was it read with a smirk? I don't even understand how people can be debating these things as they would have been completely unthinkable for previous generations, yet anyone daring to question what's happening is immediately branded by the media as a paranoid, misinformed right-wing loon (or worse).
Okay… so let's assume we're not becoming like Europe — the end justifies the means and a few transgressions here and there are a small price to pay for utopian society. Let's forget that Obama (our new President of the United States of America) has said previously that the U.S. Constitution "reflected the fundamental flaw of this country that continues to this day."
…But, the Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth, and of more basic issues such as political and economic justice in society. To that extent, as radical as I think people try to characterize the Warren Court, it wasn’t that radical. It didn’t break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution.
We don't even have to get into all that "white folks' greed runs a world in need" stuff or a dozen other things that make many people wonder about his redistributive motivations.
Assuming we're not facing a reorganization of our governmental authority, the systematic dismantling of the Constitution, the end of federalism or whatever you want to call it, what does our government currently do well? Why in the face of so many clear errors (lapses of judgment) by this administration should we blindly go forward without seriously questioning what's happening? Isn't the definition of insanity doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results?
For those interested, the full text of the current healthcare bill may be found here.
Perhaps Ronald Reagan said it best:
One of the traditional methods of imposing statism or socialism on a people has been by way of medicine. It's very easy to disguise a medical program as a humanitarian project. Most people are a little reluctant to oppose anything that suggests medical care for people who possibly can't afford it.