Recently, while at work, I listened to a physician discuss why Americans should support Obama’s health care plan. I sat quietly for a while as she assured everyone that there has never been any attempt to compare the results of various health care systems around the world (that is not true) and then declared repeatedly that the concerns being brought up by those on the right are simply part of a “mythology.”
At this point, I decided to ask her some questions. The conversation went something like this:
Me: “Well, many people are wondering why President Obama’s health care reform has to be pushed through in three weeks. Why can’t we take time to discuss this?”
Doctor: “It’s impossible to discuss the health care reform with any sort of intelligence because these people (those who disagree with Obama’s plan) don’t allow conversation.”
Me: “Many people ARE interested in discussing this but Obama and Congress are insisting that the bill be passed right now. What is the rush?”
Doctor: “Look. There isn’t even an actual plan yet so there really isn’t anything for them to be upset about. And all of these people who are showing up at these meetings and screaming that they don’t want government to pay for health care are the same ones who are on Medicare and Social Security. Seriously, it doesn’t matter whether we do this in three weeks or five years.”
Me (absolutely dumbfounded. If she freely acknowledges there isn’t really a plan yet on something as monumental as health care reform, then why is she comfortable with Obama and Congress trying to push it through without delay? I pressed on.): “Well, that is another issue. Medicare makes Social Security look solvent. We can’t even afford just these two programs. Why are we not first discussing getting Medicare and Social Security in better financial shape before we start yet another very expensive program?”
Doctor (obviously frustrated and slightly disgusted): “Well, what we really need to do is discuss stopping these two stupid wars so we can pay for health care. Lots of countries use their wealth to pay for health care.”
Me: “Yes, other countries do pay for health care but these countries haven’t had to engage in the “guns versus butter” debate in quite some time because we have been taking care of their defense needs. When was the last time Germany had to fund its own defense?”
Doctor (glaring): “This conversation is over.”
She stood up and walked away. So much for promoting “intelligent” conversation and allowing room for discussion!
Five minutes pass. The doctor returns.
Doctor: “Look. I didn’t mean to cut off our conversation. But it was apparent that we had come to an impasse.”
Me: “No – it’s fine. I also am interested in achieving health care reform. But I guess that I’m just puzzled as to why this has to be done right this minute. I think many of these Americans are just worried about the speed at which this is happening and the prohibitive costs.”
Doctor (again, clearly frustrated): “Well why are these people so concerned about rushing to get health care reform and the cost when they weren’t worried about rushing into two very expensive wars?”
Me: “Congress authorized both of those wars after considerable deliberation.”
Doctor: Silence. And a look of complete incomprehension.
She then walked away for the second time. The conversation was truly over.
I think it was good for me to have this interaction with this woman. Until then, I guess I had held onto the belief that Conservatives and leftists or statists could sit down and rationally discuss issues. Call me naïve but in the back of my mind, I thought discussion was possible, or hoped it was possible.
But to so many leftists, logic is optional. I’m not suggesting that political opinions and logic are one and the same – they are not. But how can anyone believe that we should proceed with something as important and game-changing as taxpayer funded health care in the space of one month? It simply makes no sense. How can anyone believe that we can afford yet another multi-trillion dollar program when it is simply a FACT that we aren’t able to pay for existing programs like Medicare and Social Security?
I admit that I have been somewhat troubled at the tenor of the town hall meetings that have been taking place around the country. I am not a fan of screaming and in-your-face arguing (even though Obama encouraged his supporters to do just that during the election! Funny how things change . . .).
But if leftists cannot even look at the evidence, the black and white realities that are fundamental to the issue of health care reform, how can we hope to discuss even the mid-level details of the program, not to mention the nuts and bolts of how it will all work?
Ace of Spades recently had a blog post about Dr. Krauthammer’s concern about the behavior of some people at the town hall meetings. Andy McCarthy of the NRO responded to Dr. Krauthammer, writing that criminal mob behavior can never be endorsed but this is not a “nice, ivory tower, Oxford debate.” He writes, “Making clear to a pol who is trying to insult your intelligence that you don’t appreciate . . . is entirely appropriate . . . We’re not talking trivia here. We’re talking about what kind of country we’re going to be from here on out. That’s something worth getting whipped up about. If we’re not whipped up, we lose. If we are whipped up and the Democrats try to use that fact as an excuse to ram this through, then they were going to ram it through anyway.” (See “Krauthammer vs. McCarthy on Pure Angry Venting At Town Halls”, August 11, 2009 at http://ace.mu.nu/)
The very nature of our country and freedom will change forever if this thing passes. Unfortunately, too many people on the other side are convinced that they must manage our health and wealth for us because we are too ignorant to know what is for our own good. I now realize that it would be foolish for us to hope that calm debate and discussion will save the day. These people mean business and it is clear that they do not let politeness, respect or even reason stand in the way of getting (or taking) what they want. I still believe that we must always attempt to be principled and honorable in our interactions with others. But if we hesitate to be passionate about our beliefs, if we are reluctant to voice our concerns in a clear and unapologetic manner, we are going to lose to a group of people who will ensure that there will only be one opinion that will ever matter: the government’s.