21 March 2010

It's All About Veronica

It's All About Veronica

I am a Left-leaning Independent voter, but I have little respect for the political Left. Strange as it may sound, I feel a stronger connection with the rural Conservative voter who predominates in my home state of Missouri. Mind you, I don't share his narrow-minded views, and I harbor no illusions about him: This voter can be extremely xenophobic, sexist, heterosexist, even racist, and he falls for just about any candidate who comes along waving a flag and brandishing a Bible!

Yet, he is truly passionate about his moral values and the issues that affirm them: Small government, strong national defense, gun rights, frequent tax cuts, and blending of church and state, which dictates his feelings about Gay Rights and abortion. For sure, he's a stone reactionary, but he's for real! Politics is serious business for him. Seldom is he swayed by a photogenic face or a list of made-to-order promises. His loyalty is triggered by slavish fidelity to his core issues, and he’ll kick to the curb any Republican politician who doesn't honor them. He will make a litmus test of a candidate's voting record in order to justify or deny him support at the polls. Presidential nominee John McCain failed to pass the test, and as a result, he never secured the Republican base. The rural Conservative brings a passionate commitment to voting his beliefs! He has unquestionably changed the face of American government, and for that I respect him.

By contrast, the urban Progressive voter (who lives in the suburbs as often as not) isn't terribly passionate about anything! He can make you believe otherwise, though, by the fired-up way he talks (Liberals love to give and listen to stirring speeches; that's one of the main reasons they supported Barack Obama). Yes, there are issues that he somewhat cares about: Unjust war, the environment, corporate greed, immigration reform, minority rights, women's rights, jobs, health care . . . but he will readily brush them all aside so that the "right" candidate can be elected. What makes a candidate the right one for an urban Liberal isn't his position on issues, but merely his opposition to whoever is on the Republican ticket! Often, the Democrat will be almost as Conservative as the Republican! Party affiliation matters most in the end, not ideology.

It's almost a snob thing. My observation has been that urban Progressives look down their noses at Conservative politics; they think of the constituency as "dumbasses", while they dismiss the candidates as "idiots". Never mind that these idiots won the balance of national elections during the last century; the means used to get them elected, like concentration on a single issue, religion-based campaign appeals and unabashed patriotism, are too crude for a Progressive to even consider emulating. Liberals pride themselves on being politically sophisticated. Yes, indeedy! Wanna know just how sophisticated they are? They'll justify returning an ineffective or double-crossing politician to office over and over again by arguing "he's the lesser of two evils" and/or "sometimes, you just have to hold your nose and do what's practical".

Political sophistication notwithstanding, urban Progressive voters are far more gullible than their Conservative counterparts are. Their elected officials hardly need to ply them with jingoistic rhetoric before sneaking off with a corporate lobbyist. Truth be told, they don't have to sneak! Democrat politicians cuckold their constituents fairly openly, confident that their incumbency is secure no matter how often they bed down with Right Wing special interests.

When urban Progressives learn about these illicit affairs, they predictably throw a hissy fit. They bitch and whine for a little while, but eventually they throw hands up in the air and say: "What other choice do we have?" Then they go to the polls, obediently pull the Democrat lever as always, and get far less than what they claim to have wanted . . . as always! With rural Conservative voters, it's a different story. Lobbyist hanky panky doesn't faze them much, but if a Republican incumbent strays from their reactionary platform, they drop him like a hot potato and flock to the local Tea Party! They will cede both local and national races to Democrats rather than elect an unreliable Conservative. Ideological infidelity simply isn’t tolerated among that crowd!

Left Wing voters are doormats. Suckers! They don't care if their candidates' love is untrue. They're like the late Tammy Wynette singing "Stand By Your Man", blindly hanging on to a cheating, contemptuous lover. They're like Hillary Clinton, enduring marriage to a philanderer husband who subjects her to the worst kind of public humiliation. They're like Betty Cooper, a hapless comic book character I've cited before on this blog: Betty pursues Archie Andrews even though he jilts her repeatedly and flirts shamelessly with Veronica Lodge in front of everyone!

Nothing better illustrates the Liberal voter's blind allegiance to Democrats than his unqualified support for President Obama’s idea of health care reform. First, Liberals said they had to have single payer coverage, but that turned out to be a lie. Then they wanted Medicare for all, but they quickly abandoned that goal, too. Finally, all hope for a "public option" evaporated. Even with no public financing option to make the legislation affordable, urban Progressives fell head-over-heels for Democrat Party sweet talk: We'll close the prescription drug "doughnut hole", we'll mandate coverage for pre-existing conditions, we'll get young adults coverage under their parents’ health plans, smack, smooch, slurp!

Drunk with partisan love, Progressives toed the party line and shouted down every cautionary voice, insisting that "it's better for Congress to pass something than nothing at all." (You know, like when you kiss a horny toad instead of that elusive Prince Charming, and you can hardly tell the difference?) They seemed almost eager to have their attention diverted from a most ominous fact: That the Obama plan legally mandates Americans to buy insurance from the private sector, with negligible cost controls!

Ignoring a troublesome truth like that takes some doing! It's quite remarkable, how determined Progressives were this time to once again see a stark naked Emperor sporting fine clothes. On a recent edition of the PBS series "Bill Moyers Journal", Harvard Medical School professor Marcia Angell lay the ugly truth on Moyers' overwhelmingly Liberal audience, and she didn't mince words:

MARCIA ANGELL: What this bill does is not only permit the commercial insurance industry to remain in place, but it actually expands and cements their position as the lynchpin of health care reform. And these companies, they profit by denying health care, not providing health care. And they will be able to charge whatever they like! So if they're regulated in some way, and it cuts into their profits, all they have to do is just raise their premiums, and they'll do that. Not only does (the Obama bill) keep them in place, but it pours about 500 billion dollars of public money into these companies over 10 years. And it mandates that people buy these companies' products for whatever they charge! Now, that's a recipe for the growth in health care costs, not only to continue, but to skyrocket, to grow even faster!

Holy second Wall Street bailout, Batman!

BILL MOYERS: But given that, why have the insurance companies, health insurance companies, been fighting reform so hard?

MARCIA ANGELL: Oh, they haven't fought it very hard, Bill! They really haven't fought it very hard. What they're fighting for is the individual mandate. And if they get that mandate, if everyone does have to buy their commercial products, then they're going to be extremely happy with it.

BILL MOYERS: But this is all about politics now. It's not about pure health care reform. So, given that reality, what would you have the President do?

MARCIA ANGELL: Well, I think you really do have to separate the policy analysis from the political analysis, and I'm looking at it as policy. And it fails as policy . . . there are a lot of people who say, "Look, it's a terrible bill! Even a step in the wrong direction, as policy goes. But we need to get Obama elected again, and we need to continue with the Democratic majority in Congress. And so we need to give Obama and the Democrats a win. If we don't, the Republicans will come in and take over Congress in the fall, and then the White House in 2012.” But the problem with a political analysis is, sometimes you're right and sometimes you're wrong! And Democrats, and particularly Liberals, have a history of outsmarting themselves . . . I'm not so sure that if this bill goes down, it's going to make it any harder for them politically. (There will be) difficult times for the President and for the Democrats, (but) the issue is: Will this bill make (the coverage problem) better or worse? And I believe it will make it worse . . . it will take money out of Medicare and put it into the private sector. Medicare is the source for a lot of the funds that (will) subsidize the private health insurance industry. So that's the first thing, (and) as far as cost-cutting (goes), there are, sort of, promissory notes: “We'll get a committee to look at the cost of effectiveness, of various medical procedures.” (The Congressional Budget Office) has to build in assumptions, (but) those assumptions are arguable, to put it mildly.

Holy Medicare fund raid, Batman!

BILL MOYERS: Well, you remind me 45,000 people . . . die every year for lack of health insurance.

MARCIA ANGELL: It's not lack of health insurance. It's lack of health care! There is a difference between health insurance and health care. You can have insurance offered that is too expensive to buy or too expensive to use. What good does it do? And what happens when this occurs, is that . . . instead of improvements, look at my state of Massachusetts . . . you see (coverage) shredded even further. You see more people denied access anyway. Now (there are) over 60,000 people in my state who are exempted from the (mandatory Massachusetts health) plan for financial hardship, and this is also in the Obama plan. If you're really poor, you don't have to participate, and these are the very people who should be in a plan . . .

BILL MOYERS: But, the very poor do get Medicaid.

MARCIA ANGELL: Yes, yes. And one of the things about the Obama plan that I do like is that it expands Medicaid up to 133% of the Federal poverty level, and that's fine. The problem is that (it) could have been a stand-alone measure. You didn't need to have it incorporated in this massive Rube Goldberg apparatus . . . the bill as a whole, the more I look at it, the worse it gets. It's going to increase (consumer) costs, not decrease them.

Also, read these assessments of President Obama's health care legislation from Huffington Post contributor Taylor Marsh and Jane Hamsher of firedoglake.com.

As Dr. Angell indicated, Democrats have promised to iron the "bugs" out of this bill later on, after it's been signed into law. We've heard that kind of promise before! Remember NAFTA? Even with Democrat majorities in both houses of Congress, the job-destroying directives of that disastrous "free trade" agreement appear to be set in stone. So much for fixing flawed legislation later; politicians sure don’t have a good record on that score!

I have never bought into the fiction that what’s good for the Democrat or Republican parties is always good for the nation. The urban Progressive voter's blind loyalty to Democrats is an abusive and unfaithful relationship that's going nowhere fast. That's why millions of former Democrats like myself now identify as Independent. We don't want any more Democrat Party kisses because we know where that donkey's puckered lips have been: Planted on the talcum-powdered backsides of Wall Street banksters and rich Conservative campaign donors! Lips that kiss corporate ass will never touch ours again! Sloppy seconds may be good enough for Betty Cooper, but the American people deserve better.

American government deserves better, too! When a billion-dollar Wall Street bailout zooms though Congress like greased lightning, but health care reform stalls for years and can't pass until after it's been gutted by the insurance industry, how much more obvious can infidelity be? Where’s the logic in hanging on to a boyfriend (or an elected representative) once you know he's fallen for a spoiled rich girl? If it's all about Veronica, nothing’s left for Betty that's worth having! Cynical, sellout career politicians will destroy our democracy sooner than any terrorist bomb!

If they're really serious about their core issues (and frankly, I've yet to be convinced that they are), Progressive voters had better put that long-suffering lover act to bed! They need to stop being so damn sophisticated and try being more passionate, like those "dumbass" Right Wingers. When we demand reform of health care, military policy, financial regulations, etcetera, we've got to back up those demands in the voting booth! If we fail to do so, we get exactly the kind of impotent public policy we deserve. Fidelity to issues must determine what we do at the polls, not smug political gamesmanship! Love is not a game, and neither is good government. The American voter should develop a healthy aversion to cuckolding, regardless of party affiliation!

In closing this essay, let me turn the podium over to Dr. Marcia Angell once more. She states her case so articulately, it’s a pleasure to do so. The following quote comes from a 2000 PBS television special titled “Health Care Crisis: Who’s At Risk?”

Our health care system is based on the premise that health care is a commodity like VCRs or computers, and that it should be distributed according to the ability to pay in the same way that consumer goods are. That's not what health care should be! Health care is a need; it's not a commodity, and it should be distributed according to need. If you're very sick, you should have a lot of it. If you're not sick, you shouldn't have a lot of it. But this should be seen as a personal, individual need, not as a commodity to be distributed like other marketplace commodities. That is a fundamental mistake in the way this country, and only this country, looks at health care. And that market ideology is what has made the health care system so dreadful, so bad at what it does.

Preach, doctor, preach! Thanks for indulging me with this one last bit of political punditry.

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