It's embarrassing for a political junkie to admit, but I completely passed on the "health care reform" debate and votes this weekend.
Part of this was having two active and busy kids (and part of a third, with Christine's little guy the Poet coming over Sunday afternoon to give her a break), part of it was wanting to stay on top of home and house business.
But a big part of it was simple disgust.
This issue has become a Ministry of Silly Walks, really, and I've long since gone past irritation through anger to revulsion and into indifference at the ludicrous posturing over what is really a very minor adjustment in the U.S. medical system.
The reality is that the fundamental dysfunction - the idea of making a profit off giving medical treatment to the sick - is unchanged. The fee-for-service and for-profit health care business will, therefore, continue to swell up and swallow more of the nation's wealth. The well-duh realization that pretty much the whole rest of the world has reached - that sick people don't and won't "shop" for bargains, that the disjunction in knowledge-level between the medical "provider" and "consumer" is so huge as to be unbridgable and prevents even a smart guy like me from "shopping" for medicine even if I wanted to, and that the complete lack of external controls, either regulatory or market-based, on medical costs virtually ensures that they will bubble until they grow beyond sustainability - has utterly escaped us.
No, this is a band-aid on a tumor, and although it will help a relatively small group of Americans get medical insurance it stays well away from doing anything to actually help reform the for-profit system.
What I did get out of this mess, however, is the degree to which the U.S. party system is broken, and that because one of the two parties has become flat-out, no-holds-barred, bug-fucking crazy. Let's elide the usual political bullshit (John Boehner’s argument, for example, that you won’t be able to keep your health insurance under this plan is just a lie. But we've come to expect this sort of lying by now.) and look at some of the top GOP quotes on the health-care issue (courtesy of Alterdestiny):
Tom Price (R-GA): "If health care passes, "We lose our morality. We lose our freedom."
John Shadegg (R-AZ): "This bill will destroy freedom and do damage to the very fabric of our society."
Marsha Blackburn (R-MN): "Freedom dies a little bit today."
Devin Nunes (R-CA): By passing health care reform, Democrats "will finally lay the cornerstone of their Socialist utopia on the backs of the American people. For most of the 20th century people fled the ghosts of communist dictators. And now you are bringing the ghosts back into this chamber."
Waa...hunh? Obama is Stalin? Forcing people to buy expensive insurance is the COMINTERN? (Guess nobody told the auto-insurance KGB, hunh?) Freedom dies when poor people get medical coverage? Baby Jesus weeps when insurance companies don't get to kick people off their insurance when they get cancer? (Oh wait, they still do - there's nothing in here that prevents rescission.)
I do believe that these gomers are talking out their fourth point of contact. They don't REALLY believe any of this "freedom is dead" rhetoric. The problem is that there's a whole bunch of mouthbreathers out there that DO believe it, and this sort of playground bullshit gets and keeps them worked up.
You can't keep a republic when a third of the citizens believe that passing civil legislation in a majority-vote fashion means "We lose our freedom."
I've said this before, but it bears repeating. One of the deadliest things a republic can do is allow one group or faction to put it's interests not before the interests of others but before the interest of a functioning republic. If one side stops accepting that the other gets a turn at the helm, then there is no solution but conflict, and if one side stops accepting the results of that conflict as played out with votes then it must be played out with guns and ammunition.
Based on this sort of language a fraction - hard to say how large, but given the relative importance of the sort of people like Limbaugh and Coulter who say just the sort of things I've quoted above it is substantial - of the GOP, circa 2010 is already most of the way there.
And where is the alternative? Where is there a place for the "conservative" who doesn't want to hector people about profit!abortiongaysgunsandGod?
(Cross-posted from GFT)