Errr, wait a minute: we're just getting to the debate itself? What the hell?! We've got renegade Democratic senators still holding out on the public option, there's still quite a bit of difference between the Senate and the House versions of the bill, various groups within the Democratic party have problems with either version, and we've celebrating the chance to debate the bill?
Yep, that's where we are in American politics today, folks: the Republicans are so afraid of health care reform that they're afraid to even talk about it. This isn't the first time the Rethugs have played Chicken Little with much-needed reform, either. From Social Security to Medicare, the wingnuts have consistently played the fear card to oppose progress in this country. For example, here's a taped message from Ronald Reagan opposing Medicare:
"One of the traditional methods of imposing statism or socialism has been by way of medicine." He urged his listeners to write to Congress opposing Medicare and warned, "If you don't do this, one of these days you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was like in American when men were free."
This spot was paid for by AMA and AMPAC, and played at Operation Coffee Cup coffees put on by doctors' wives.
Sound familiar? The same, lame excuses are being spouted by Repugs today. The Republican party has a long and unsavory history of doing everything it can to block, delay, and weaken progress in America that would help ordinary Americans. As far back as the 1920s, Repugs have opposed the advancement of the poor and the middle class.
Why today we see lower and middle-income individuals supporting inane policies that are antithetical to their own self-interest (tort reform, for one example, not to mention opposition to health care reform!) is something that I and many others have thought long and hard upon. I can't explain it, I don't understand it, and I am totally repelled by it. The tea partiers and their ilk are just the latest and, for what it's worth, most organized manifestation of this trend in American politics. I'm hoping that they do their level best to defeat "mainline" (such as the are) Republican candidates in primary challenges in 2010. Maybe then we can have a 60+ seat majority in the Senate, and truly get some things accomplished.
But for now, we've gotten past this hurdle, and here comes the hard part: getting a bill out of the Senate that we can live with. Here's hoping that the Democrats can pull this off!