Monday, March 22, 2010

Don't Be a Dick

I have a few words for all my fellow Americans who today find themselves hating the new healthcare reform package: don't be a dick.

You had eight years at the helm to fix healthcare, and you did nothing. You had eight years to tackle a problem that, aside from letting people die for lack of medical care, is keeping the US from being competitive in the jobs market. You failed to stand up for the rights of middle- and lower-class workers and their families.

Even more damning, though, you were given every opportunity over the past year to make your arguments for keeping the old "if you get sick, you die" healthcare policies. Instead of offering substantive critiques, such as how including a mandate but not a public option is a giveaway to the very insurance agencies that made the problem to start with, you took those opportunities to be heard and spat on them. You invented preposterous lies about "death panels," abortion funding, illegal immigrants and whatever else you could get away with. You threw around meaningless but emotionally resonant labels like "socialism" and "communism," without even a shred of pretense that those labels were in any way relevant or accurate. Worse still, when that kind of fearmongering didn't change the fact that the majority of Americans wanted some sort of guarantee that getting sick wouldn't be a death sentence, you resorted to racial slurs and threats of violence. Your shameful behavior has made a mockery of political debate, as well as shocked the rest of the world. Living abroad, I often get asked just what in the hell is wrong with America that would make us think that an idea that is uncontroversial everywhere else in the developed world would somehow undo society.

You had your chance to be taken seriously, and you blew it big time. You demonstrated with horrifying clarity the lengths to which you will go to deny your political opponents any kind of a legislative victory. Your callous opposition to something precisely because it was supported by a majority of the American public was and is sickening (literally-- people really could have benefited from not having you delay healthcare reform over your nonsense). Now, while today the saner half of America celebrates a small, incremental step towards recognizing universal human rights, as you threaten to leave the country or take violent actions, I ask that you instead try calming down and not being a dick to your fellow Americans.