Widgets Magazine


Get It Right: The Healthcare “Rage”

The 219-212 vote last Sunday on health care reform may have, as Mr. Obama phrased it, answered “the call of history.” History has certainly seen its share of usurpation and tyranny. However, it is unlikely that the passage of the bill answered the call of the Americans it will impact. Rasmussen Reports polls reveal that as Obamacare’s champions headed to vote on Sunday, 54 percent of polled voters opposed the plan and 45 percent polled strongly opposed the plan. Yet, despite majority opposition and transparent political wheeling and dealing, Obama and the Democrats in the House managed to pull the bill through. Immediate tumult followed the bill’s passage: 14 attorneys general have filed suit against the government on the basis of the unconstitutionality of this reform. Republican leaders are attempting to gain momentum to repeal health care reform and are inciting voters to display their displeasure in the upcoming elections.

Considering the costs and benefits of the reform, it is not difficult to discern where the main points of contention arise, which is why I was surprised to discover a New York Times article the other day entitled “The Rage Is Not About Health Care.” Nonplussed (I had been thinking the rage was all about health care) I read further, seeking enlightenment. And how, you ask, does columnist Frank Rich account for such raging Republican fury? In the same way that liberals traditionally respond to opposition when they fail to find substantive counter-arguments: by blaming the angry white men.

According to Rich, “If Obama’s first legislative priority had been immigration or financial reform or climate change, we would have seen the same trajectory.” Angry, racist, sexist and homophobic Republicans cannot handle the “conjunction of a black president and a female speaker of the House – topped off by a wise Latina on the Supreme Court and a powerful gay Congressional committee chairman,” and therefore would have demonstrated the “tsunami” of “illogical” anger over any legislation advanced by diverse government leaders. Maniacal chants of “Kill the Bill” reveal the homicidal lust of reform opponents as shouts of “baby killer” to Congressman Bart Stupak and “You Lie” to Obama indicate “small-scale mimicry of Kristallnacht.”

I am struck by the irony that liberals are outraged by accusations of socialism levied at the president (and here we are moving toward socialized health care) and yet feel justified in comparing conservative political unrest to the horrifying murder and persecution carried out by the Nazis. Rich backs his claims of Republican racism with evidence such as, “the Republicans haven’t had a single African-American in the Senate or the House since 2003 and have had only three in total since 1935.” While casting his aspersions, Rich conveniently ignores figures such as Michael Steele, the conservative African American serving as the current chairman of the Republican National Committee. Or how about our very own Condoleezza Rice? An African-American woman who formerly served in the capacities of both National Security Advisor and U.S. Secretary of State? What a bunch of sexist racists these anti-Healthcare white male supremacists must be!

I am unconvinced by Rich’s argument, and I offer an alternative explanation for discord over the reform. Fundamentally, this bill is a mandate for Americans to purchase a product. Individuals who do not wish to purchase health care will be penalized for failure to comply with the new system. One might ask where in the Constitution such an ordinance is justified, just as the attorneys general are asking, but instead of explaining the violation of our founding document, Democrats such as Frank Rich point to protestors with accusations of racism and bigotry.

There are, of course, a plethora of other objections to the bill, ranging from a tax on tanning salons to the definition of “children” as 26-year-old dependents to the potential imposition of huge fines on employers. The fact that the highly politicized issue of abortion was used as a bargaining chip in the House vote outrages members of both parties. Forty percent of doctors over the age of 55 express concerns that it may not profitable for them to remain in the health care business. Many question the bill’s efficacy and express anxiety over giving the government control over an additional sixth of the American economy. Still, more worry that the legislation will stifle the healthcare industry and lead to the kind of substandard care evidenced by socialized systems in Europe and Canada. Take your pick of concerns to address/debate/discuss, but realize that Republican reaction to the health care reform has everything to do with conservative values clashing with the elements of the bill (shocking!) – and stop shifting the focus of the debate to alleged racial prejudices.

Continue the health care debate with Erica at emorgan1@stanford.edu.

  • Sam King

    preventable deaths per 100,000 in the US: 110
    preventable deaths per 100,000 in Canada: 77

    I would also encourage a look at the comparative cost.

  • Right

    So “conservative values” explain why GOP opposition protesters resorted to calling John Lewis a N*****?

  • Joe Blow

    Where is the audio proof that John Lewis was called anything?

  • Maura

    Last time I checked “Nazi” was the moniker that angry Republicans had given Obama and his camp. I don’t think *you* missed all the posters that had Adolphs little moustache superimposed on our president’s mug. Granted, it’s obviously even LESS correct when they use it that way, but they’re good at scattershot.

    Anyway, I think your shock at the “Nazi” accusation is overblown. More than treading on thin ice here, I’d daresay it’s well-cracked and you’re submerged in the hypocritical depths.