I really want to talk about healthcare. I see it as an important issue, worthy of respectful discussion, but finger pointing currently seems more prominent than fixing. Partisanship has surpassed any semblance of panacea. So before we can wrestle with what seemingly prompts the unhinged, sky-is-falling emotion from far too many, we need to wrestle with partisanship first. Why? Because partisanship is impeding solution.
So many emotions — coinciding within the far left, far right, Obama lovers, Trump lovers, Obama haters, and Trump haters camps — are killing conversation. This polarization then impairs our ability to solve what needs it… i.e. healthcare.
I’m reminded of “Common Ground,” a great read directed at stopping the “partisan war that is destroying America,” co-authored by liberal columnist Bob Beckel and conservative columnist Cal Thomas. They call out the hypocrisy within issues, organizations, and individuals that have deepened the partisan divide, so-to-speak, and they encourage the rest of us not to be seduced into such thinking. Yes, the intelligent are being seduced. Partisans are successfully playing to our emotions. They are luring us in.
Think about it…
This past week the House repealed Obamacare; barring any perceived more significant current events, I’d like to talk about this more later in the week. But note as some have pointed out, some/many who voted to repeal/replace, did not actually read the legislation (…hear an Intramuralist “geeeeesh” here…). That should concern us all.
Here’s an additional fact: some/many who passed the original Affordable Care Act also didn’t read the legislation (… the geeeeesh continues…). Friends, our congressmen/women, who represent us, need to read what they are voting upon — whether that is “yea” or “nay.” But here’s what happens: partisanship and polarized thinking has seduced us into believing that not reading the legislation was ok one of those times. In other words, the end justifies the means, so if a person likes the result, it’s ok that this time, the legislator didn’t read what he was voting on. That acceptance of less than honorable behavior is a direct result of partisanship and the coinciding emotions.
Where did this severe level of partisan seduction begin?
Some attribute the less than honorable behavior to Sen. Mitch McConnell’s stated strategy to oppose anything and everything then Pres. Obama put forth. Others attribute it to Obama’s forceful push through of Obamacare, ignoring conservative input and changing Senate rules to eventually ratify. Still more attribute it to the Republicans fervor in insuring Pres. Clinton paid for his personal indiscretions. And still more blame it on the Democrats response to the not so articulate Pres. George W. Bush and those perceived weapons of mass destruction.
Beckel and Thomas actually go back further than the past four administrations; they also blame no singular party nor individual. They go back to the late 1970’s, when laws regarding lobbyists were eased. Lobbyists were given more access to current congressmen — more opportunity to interact with those actually crafting current law. Remember that the goal of a lobbyist is to get their law passed; they don’t care about the totality of laws; they care about their law.
Hence, when the lobbyist laws were eased, legislators began socializing with lobbyists. Previously they had socialized with one another — regardless of party. All of a sudden, however, instead of our representatives working together during the day and enjoying time and life together in the evening, they started separating in the evening. Restaurants and bars became known as hangouts of the left or the right — as opposed to places where they would hang out together. Hanging out together helps people realize how reasonable another is, despite deep political and policy differences.
Fascinating… when we stop hanging out with those who think differently, even in all of our intelligence, we lose sight of another’s reason. That is hurting us. Said James Q. Wilson, over 10 years ago in “Commentary” Magazine, who believes in spite of most of us being centrists, we are becoming a polarized nation, “By polarization I do not have in mind partisan disagreements alone. These have always been with us… By polarization I mean something else: an intense commitment to a candidate, a culture, or an ideology that sets people in one group definitively apart from people in another, rival group. Such a condition is revealed when a candidate for public office is regarded by a competitor and his supporters not simply as wrong but as corrupt or wicked; when one way of thinking about the world is assumed to be morally superior to any other way; when one set of political beliefs is considered to be entirely correct and a rival set wholly wrong.”
This one way of thinking, one set of beliefs, one set of what’s right… it’s killing conversation and impeding solution.