The Bright Coast

Progressive Thoughts from San Diego Alums on Law, Politics, and Culture

Open Wide and Say ‘Ahh!’ (As Instructed By Your Friendly Special Interest)

Posted by demkid on August 11, 2009

Admittedly, health care as a political issue is waaaay down the list for me, both in terms of knowledge of the specific points and overall interest in the subject matter.   (It probably falls somewhere in between agriculture and Native American affairs.)  As a young single person with generally excellent health, I fortunately have no real need to think about health care at this point in time, outside of regular physicals and the like.  I currently have private insurance which operates as a safety net in case something unexpected happens, and I avoid things which have been shown to be bad for ones’ health, like cigarettes, fatty foods, and Fox News.  I’m sure many would tell me that I really should be paying more attention to the debate because the potential health care changes would have an immediate impact on those whom I care about now, and would either help or harm me down the road when I’m more in need of services.  Unfortunately, I just can’t get past the fact that the issue itself completely bores me. 

Luckily though, I can look past the intricacies of health care reform and focus on the much more exciting related topic: crazy people shouting at each other!!  First of all, yes, I regard most of the people yelling at recent public “town halls” to be loony to at least some degree.  I get the fact that you have a right to shout at your particular member of Congress about any given issue that troubles you, but to do so to the detriment of other concerned citizens who simply want to find out more about proposed health care changes?  That’s another story.  I really don’t care a whole lot about where a particular person is coming from or what that person’s motives are.  Sure, it’s well-known that special interest and lobbying groups on the right have been sending operatives to these meetings and have provided scripts to the paranoid with specific talking points.  A certain segment of those who have gone to the town halls have had no other mission but to disrupt the events and generally annoy the representatives.  To their credit, these tactics have worked to fueluneasiness in the Obama health care plan, have galvanized the right-wing media (and have made the left more combative), and have even made some Congresspeople look like fools for reacting hostilely to actual reasoned public questioning.  However, it isn’t just the special interests and their pawns who are to blame forthese seemingly daily fiascos.  The right has made it a point to argue that the vast majority of people attending the meetings have come on their own accord and have legitimate concerns about the future of health care in the United States.  While this may be true, it doesn’t excuse those who have shouted others down, caused scenes, and generally interrupted reasoned discourse.  It’s understandable that people are confused by proposed reforms.  Acting like a loon won’t remedy this confusion, however, and simply serves to distract others from hearing representatives’ explanations and obtaining answers to valid questions.  (As an example, take Mike Sola, who wheeled his disabled son in front of Congressman John Dingell, yelled, pointed, and was escorted out by police.  Sure, his concerns may have been valid, but what did he accomplish, exactly?  That is, besides going on Fox News later in the day to explain that Pelosi’s thugs had threatened him in the middle of the night.)  To summarize, I don’t care if you’re a 20-year old punk trying to disrupt a meeting or an 80-year old great-grandmother concerned about losing your Hoverround.  The result is the same: if you act like a nut, the normal people suffer.

Yes, let’s not forget that there are many citizens out there who are troubled by sweeping health care reform who choose to add to the debate rather than disrupt it.  They don’t understand the specifics, don’t know how they would be personally affected, and have concerns about losing current coverage and benefits.  In my opinion, both sides of the aisle are to blame for all of this confusion.  The left has done a poor job of informing the public on this issue (the town halls don’t seem to be helping much).  Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Hoyer called everyone disrupting the town halls “un-American” in yesterday’s USA Today column.  Yet another ‘brilliant’ liberal move that will surely distract from the real debate and serve as a talking point for the right for the entire week, if not longer.  Speaking of the right, it isn’t surprising that yet again, its main tactic revolves around scaring people into opposition.  Take, for example, Miss Wasilla’s claim that the health care overhaul bill would set up a “death panel.”  “Federal bureaucrats would play God, ruling on whether ailing seniors are worth enough to society to deserve life-sustaining medical care.”  Of course, as with many previous things that have come out of the quitter’s mouth (or posted on her Facebook page…how current!), this claim is flat out wrong.  I suspect we’ll be seeing a lot more wild claims as this debate moves forward.

The one person who has the most power to guide the debate and move public opinion is of course, the President.  He needs to (and I expect he will) do a significant amount of work to diminish the public uneasiness on health care reform.  (Maybe this reality check page is a good start?)  He’ll probably come out with some sort of compromise proposal once Congress gets back from summer recess, and it’ll be interesting to see where things go from there.  Of course, I’m sure I won’t be all that interested…this is health care we’re talking about, afterall!  *Yawn*

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3 Responses to “Open Wide and Say ‘Ahh!’ (As Instructed By Your Friendly Special Interest)”

  1. Whats going on now is a compromise bill. The main fight is over a “public option” that would compete with the private insurance companies. This is a compromise from single payer health care that would eliminate the insurance companies. The current debate has dems trying to reform and republicans arguing against reform. I dont see a compromise between those two sides. one wants to do something the other doesnt. The side that does want to do something refuses to do it unless the side that doesnt want to do it signs off. sounds none to promising.

  2. demkid said

    Well I’m glad someone is keeping up with the details. All I see on the news involves shouting matches.

  3. […] Open Wide and Say ‘Ahh!’ (As Instructed By Your Friendly Special Interest) […]

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