What Gives Here?

I am trying to understand.

When the health care reform bill passed, I wept, because, finally, scores of Americans would have access to health care. People with pre-existing conditions would be able to get health insurance. I wept because I have seen too many people suffering needlessly in this country, because they haven’t had access to health care.

I knew and know that the Republicans were mad as hell about the passage of the bill, but a friend of mine, heavily involved in politics, sought to clear my confusion about the reason for their anger. I asked him how anyone could be against millions of people now having access to health care.

“It’s not that,” he said. “They are upset about the cost.”


Well, that’s good and all, but there’s a problem here, for me, one who struggles to understand why some things are as they are in this country. My friend reminded me that Republicans don’t like big government and big spending. I didn’t reply, and he could hear the question coming.

“Doesn’t the war in Iraq cost a lot of money?” I asked, “and the war in Afghanistan? Isn’t that government spending? Isn’t that big government?” And my friend said, “That’s different. We are fighting to defend our nation.”

“Well, isn’t making sure Americans are healthy a good move, too? I mean, why is it OK to spend money to kill people and not OK to spend money to protect rights of people here?” My friend got ready to say something, but I interrupted him. “Yes, I believe health care is a right.”

And it is right there that I am stuck. I am struggling to understand an ideology that says it’s OK to spend money to kill people and fight for democracy in other countries but it’s not OK to take care of Americans.

If it is a fact that the GOP is worried about the huge amount of money “our children” are going to have to pay, why haven’t we heard about that worry as it pertains to the money they will be paying back because of the war? I’ve never heard a peep about that expense. Our deficit was bumped up to this ridiculous level because of those wars…

Meanwhile, too many Americans still cannot get health care.

A businessman-friend of mine agreed, soberly, that the fight IS about money, and, more specifically, about the “bottom line” of insurance companies. “They are fighting to protect their profits,” he said, almost apologetically. “It’s sad, but it’s the truth.”

So, does that mean that when people say “I want my country back,” they are saying they want big business, which by definition will do anything to make a buck, to remain in control? Are they saying that to be a patriot means one has to support a government run by big business and big business concerns?

America likes to set itself up and aside as a role-model nation. We are the nation which treats people right. We are the nation that others should seek to shadow …

Really? How can that be true, when many, too many, people in America cannot get the health care they need because big business is running the show? I get absolutely livid when I think that some business person sitting at a desk can and does blithely decide what treatments I can get, and when, and that same business person decides that some people will just not be able to have treatment…UNLESS they go to an emergency room.

I guess the fact that those emergency room visits drive the costs up for all who have insurance doesn’t bother folks? It doesn’t seem to bother the GOP.

At its heart, this fight for health care reform is a social movement, a movement to protect the civil rights of Americans, and all social movement legislation has run into stiff resistance. Wanting the country back seems to want the country “back” to a state where injustice was the law of the land.

It’s a candid observation … and one, which is, frankly, very painful.

One thought on “What Gives Here?

  1. In the history of America we have always had trouble with the civil rights of other humans. While this can be painful, it should come as no surprize. Health care has been riding on the “back of the bus” with the the Constitution for along time now, you know the part, “ promote the general Welfare”. What can be more foundational to democracy than promoting the health care of those living in this constitutional democracy?

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