Health care reform compromised by pandering
September 21, 2009 —
No single issue under current national discussion is more important than health care reform. And outside of a war or an election, I have never seen Americans react so publicly and emotionally over a debate in Washington. With “tea parties” on the Capitol steps, townhall meeting meltdowns, a booming industry of anti-Obama merchandise and an endless flood of spurious chain e-mails in my inbox, one thing is clear: a large swath of the populace is mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. They are raising their voices, and they expect Congress to listen.
But why should they? Why should any rational member of Congress care one iota what this rabble has to say? In the last month, the anti-reform movement has made its case not by reasoned argument or analysis but by such contemptible means as shouting “You lie!” at the president on the House floor, branding Obama a “welfare thug” and carrying blatantly racist posters of him dressed as a witch doctor with a bone in his nose. Why should anyone heed these blockheads?
There is a reason the United States has a representative, not a direct, democracy. It is so policy of dire importance is not decided by the loudest voices, the aptest agitators, the screamers, the ranters, the bullies. Complex issues are (ideally) to be decided by dispassionate public servants who have studied the situation thoroughly and collaborated on a solution that puts the best interests of the whole nation over the concerns of any one faction.
That is so far from reality, it sounds laughably naive. But why doesn’t that bother us? Congress can work together and do the right thing when a crisis is at hand. Several economic-rescue bills passed in just three months last winter. Nobel prizewinning economist Paul Krugman says that the stimulus saved us from a second Great Depression. When they need to, legislators get things done.
Health care is just as real a crisis. Yet without immediate doom over their heads, our senators dither and our representatives dawdle. Why? Because politicians fear losing an election so much, they will pander to their constituents, no matter how ignorant, rather show real courage. But this time, the issue is too important to kowtow to the nitwits. Its time for members of Congress to grow some backbone and do what needs to be done for their country. They should close their doors, throw out their papers, and turn off Glenn Beck. Please – just until a bill is passed – ignore us!