What Can We Afford?

I heard a thoughtful politician on the radio this morning.  Of course he was “thoughtful” enough that he refused to answer yes-or-no questions with a “yes” or a “no” because he had to get to his talking points, but at least his talking points were thoughtful reflections on what he had heard at a town hall meeting he had convened in the district he represents in Nebraska.  The topic was the much-maligned Affordable Care Act (known disparagingly by its opponents as “Obamacare” and known adoringly by its supporters as “Obamacare”), an act that audaciously attempted to ensure medical coverage to everyone in the richest nation on the planet.  It might have succeeded, too, had not half of our elected federal representatives refused to support anything that President Obama proposed, and had not the other half pushed through a bill that they hadn’t even read.  But when the party-line politician on the radio this morning refused to answer a yes-or-no question and instead turned to his albeit thoughtful talking points about how he doesn’t want to leave anyone in the U.S. without health insurance (although he attempted to obstruct all progress on this exact issue when Obama was President), I can’t help but call “bullshit.”

If I were a praying man, I would pray that the current obstructionists — I mean minority party in the federal government — are not hell-bent on obstruction and resistance, but instead on, I don’t know, maybe governing.  I’d pray that they work with their opponents — I mean colleagues — in Congress.

Should they — should we — resist specific deplorable actions that consolidate power in the hands of the few, decrease civil liberties, and exacerbate fears of otherness?  Yes we should.  And we should articulate alternative narratives to those exact issues: how the powerful few have a social obligation to serve the many that grant them power; how the real American values that we should be proud and protective of are the ever-increasing granting of civil liberties to all; and how otherness and diversity and difference are not to be feared, but instead how we are always stronger together when we can draw upon our differences as we brainstorm and compromise to make the world a better place — not for the few, not just for the majority, but for all.

Resistance with purpose: not resistance for itself, Tea-Party style or Anarchist style that says to hell with the system.  Frankly, there are a lot of good things about the system, things I’ve mentioned on this blog before: public education, roads and bridges, parks, health care, social security, police, libraries, trash collection, sewage, clean water, diplomacy with other governments, consumer protections, environmental protections, workforce protections, renters’ protections, financial protections, a system of enforced public justice with agreed-upon laws and freedoms…. (https://frankcornerblog.wordpress.com/2016/11/29/drawing-lines/)

I’m voting for individuals who work with others, not in opposition to them.  I prefer democracy — government of, for, and by the people — to anarchy or fascism or oligarchy  or plutocracy.

And on the issue of health care: I’m voting for health care for all, not only because we can afford it, but also because we can’t afford not to have it.  Even in terms of dollars spent (not my favorite calculation, but one that I’m willing to use to argue for a more equitable system), emergency health care costs more than regular preventative health care, so we would save money if everyone had health insurance.  Why should health care be limited to the healthy?  (Thank you, Affordable Care Act, for finally forcing for-profit insurance companies to provide coverage for pre-existing health conditions.)  Why should health care be limited to the wealthy? (Republicans, your current draft penalizes the poor and rewards the rich, and there is no logic for this other than to keep power in the hands of the few; I’m resisting that.)

We can’t afford resistance for its own sake — it leads to costs (social, environmental, moral, even economic) rather than compromise.  Let’s be thoughtful in what we resist and let’s offer alternatives when we resist.


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