Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Random Thoughts On Health Care Reform Following Scott Brown's Victory

It has been a long time since I last posted to The Debateable blog, but for that I offer no apology, I just had different priorities. Though I thought I might abandon this blog completely, today brought with it the urge to write here yet again. What has struck me is not any more profound than anything else I have written about, but the circumstances of today have driven me to this somewhat trivial effort.

I haven't in the past come out strong in public about the health care reform bill. The reason for this isn't so much that I don't have an opinion, but rather because the discussions changed so frequently, the bill was so long, and quite frankly, I believed so few of the discussions to be proactive in any way.

So, after the victory yesterday by the Republican Senator Scott Brown in Massachusetts, it appears as though health care reform will be pushed once again to some date in the future yet to be determined. Though Sen. Brown has not yet committed to voting against the current bill, he no doubt will, and it will give the opposition the ability to filibuster against something that a majority of the Senate wants to pass.

First, let us acknowledge that almost every American wants to see some form of health care reform come to fruition, but how we get there and in what form is up for endless debate. There are those anti-government folks who want to see this handled outside of Washington...somehow by the always altruistic private sector, I guess. Then we have those who are frustrated by the deals made by our elected officials in Washington. Count me among them, but let me ask you all this, do you think that the filibuster threat had nothing to do with those deals? After all, without fear of a filibuster, a deal with Nebraska would not need to have been struck, and the majority would have passed a bill without those crazy provisions included. Finally, you have the truly progressive liberals who are disgusted that the public option would be left on the floor of the legislature among other more "socialized" features of the bill.

I have heard so many from all these sides blame President Obama for this problem. Well, he can't be held responsible for every failure in a multi-faceted issue such as this, can he? The President is the CEO and Commander in Chief of our country, and does not have a vote in the health care reform issue until his veto is either used or not. So, who is to blame? The Senate? The House? Perhaps they are to blame. After all, they are the only ones who listen to all the debate, can loudly contribute their voice, and represent their constituents' collective will, right? It would appear on paper that they are all doing what they are supposed to be doing with an almost perfect split of votes along the so-called party lines, thus sharpening our focus on the seat just awarded yesterday by Massachusetts to Scott Brown, a seat that ironically enough became available with the death of Senator Ted Kennedy who you could argue would have been the first vote cast in favor of the bill. It begs the question of what the will of the Massachusetts electorate is on the topic of health care reform as that can't have been the only issue at play in that election.

I wonder if the whole thing isn't "our" fault, and by "our" I mean every single American citizen over the age of 17. Look, President Obama didn't win the election by a close margin, nor did he win based purely on his desire to reform health care. He won because he inspired America, and helped them to believe again that this country could remain great. He did what Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, and JFK did before him in taking a country bursting at the seams, and for one day made them feel cohesive. So how much can one man do? This is not Obama's responsibility to solve, rather it is his responsibility to lead the nation to find their own solution. Have we done our part? Resoundingly, NO, we haven't.

So, what will we do next? It is apparent that we will continue to run with a two party system for the next several elections despite having at least four clear groups making up the current Democrats and Republicans, with moderates in both parties probably having much more in common than either of them do with the more extreme sides of each party. When this current bill inevitably gets filibustered and brought back to the drawing board, will those who oppose it in its current form bring fresh ideas to the table that actually reform our current health care system? Scott Brown claims that to be his desire, and I have no reason not to believe him. What about you? Even without a grasp of all 1,000+ pages of the current bill, ask yourself if you want our current system changed, and if so, in what ways? Once you come up with a list of ideas, or even just one, write a brief letter to your Representatives both in Washington and your home state, send the same letter to your Senators, and go ahead and send one to The President as well. Let's stop assuming that our leaders know what we want them to do for us, then get angry when they don't execute our desires. If they don't vote the way you want them to, next time around vote for someone who will, and that isn't necessarily the other major party candidate.

If you know others who feel differently than you do, don't be afraid to ask them why. It is OK to have your own opinion, and one founded in solid ideals should be respected, but it is also OK to challenge one another productively in fact based argument. We must continually remind ourselves what this should be all about, and that is helping people who are in need. I am always mildly disappointed in the way Americans seem to come together to send donations to those in need following a natural disaster as we have with Haiti recently, yet we don't seem to realize that for so many in our own country the same fates await them as we continually fail to make our health care system better for all Americans. To be clear, I do not begrudge anyone sending money for Haitians right now, but hope that you consider doing the same for Americans without a natural disaster, oh, and Haiti could have used that money a lot longer ago than now, I assure you.

So, this is my call to you, make your voice heard in a productive way, let's make this country a better place in which to live, and please, for all our sake, let's stop making a scapegoat of others before we have done all we need to do ourselves.

Thanks for reading!

1 comment:

  1. Nice post Dave! One thing that I think you missed is the fact that our politicians aren't about helping the people. They are about helping themselves stay in office and build their power base! This is why everything is along party lines. Each party has their lobbyists and power base that gives them money, and therefore, they are beholden to. They also use this power to leverage deals to buy their votes and gain more money for their constituents, therefore guaranteeing their re-election. This also explains why so many people are upset and pissed off right now. Our political leaders don't listen to us. They tell us what we want to hear to get elected, and then do what they want to so that they can build their power and money. It's that simple.

    As long as this goes on, our government will continue to be the mess that it is. Our founding fathers had a vision of a part time government. One in which people volunteered their time to serve, and thus, weren't beholded to corruption and the money that serves them.