I would suggest that if you want to put into perspective the red-faced, spittle-flecked spasms of paranoid rage we are witnessing on the part of birthers, deathers, townhallers and other fringe-wingers, you might take a look at Rick Perlstein’s marvelously titled article, “In America, Crazy Is a Preexisting Condition.” Perlstein looks back at episodes in the last century when a similar frenzy surfaced:
The tree of crazy is an ever-present aspect of America’s flora. Only now, it’s being watered by misguided he-said-she-said reporting and taking over the forest
As one who remembers when the right-wing saw a communist under every bed, this stroll down memory lane made for entertaining reading, but as I read, I flashed on Claire McCaskill’s recent town-hall in Hillsboro where she, quite masterfully, entertained the full range of crazy. What was remarkable to me was not just her skill, which we expect from competent politicians, but her willingness to dignify absurdity, to gravely nod and pretend that fantastic hyperbole constitutes legitimate political dialogue, and afterwards breathlessly proclaim a victory for the democratic process.
If we end up with a watered down and perhaps even pernicious health-care reform bill, replete with giveaways for the medical industries and co-ops masquerading as a public option, we must be sure to remember the role played not just by the media that Perlstein singles out, but by politicians like McCaskill who were so eager to appear even-handed that they ended up granting credibility to crazy.
The cost of legitimizing paranoia and misinformation? One example: the stalwarts on the finance committee plan now to remove end-of-life counseling from their version of health-care reform. A desirable option that just a few months ago even Republicans supported may be lost to us because our leaders won’t stand up to fools incapable of distinguishing between end-of-life counseling and euthanasia.
As for McCaskill, in her eagerness to be seen as above partisan concerns, she has indicated that if the reform ball rolls toward co-ops, she might be willing to roll right along with it. This legislator, who continually touts her fiscal acumen, has signaled her willingness to support a compromise that seems very likely to undercut the ability of reform to bring down health care costs. But she will be able to claim that she is independent and non-partisan when she courts low-information voters (so-called independents) in the hinterlands. Perlstein sums it all up:
Good thing our leaders weren’t so cowardly in 1964, or we would never have passed a civil rights bill — because of complaints over the provisions in it that would enslave whites.
Byron DeLear said:
…in hindsight, fighting for single-payer from the beginning may have provided a stronger position by the time the final bill was authored.
The ethos of turbo-capitalism is totally at odds with the ‘caring’ part of health-care. The battle wages on, but in a nation known to celebrate turbo-capitalism to a ridiculous level, makes for an uneven playing field, in which any attempt at pitting a philosophical abstraction like, the humane right to basic health care, against ethically dubious profiteering is going to be an uphill challenge.
All one need do to understand the confusing agendas and detect any meaning to the cacophony of the current health care debate, is look here: http://www.opensecrets.org/new…
Over a handful of years, a billion bucks o’ leverage, bending the space time of DC to the will of those spending the dough; in this instance, money “makes the world stop goin’ ’round”.
With my fiance denied health care from all the majors here in Missouri due to an anterior lumbar fusion operation she had a few years ago, we will be appreciative of a bill that eliminates the denial of service due to pre-existing conditions. However, as health care costs rise, failing to extricate the profiteering going on in American Health Care Corps cannot be avoided. The dust may settle after a watered down version gets passed, but eventually, we will all be here again, on the frontlines of the debate on health care, the argument between ‘me’ and ‘we’.
As with parenting, governance, and political voice, we might wish that there was a threshold of intelligence–or at least ability or willingness to hone up on the topic before acting–but, alas, there is not. Babies are born, jurisdictions are often governed, and idiots continue to rant against a long list of misinformed “theories” of political enslavement without regard to understanding, logic or facts. Pardon the forgotten source, but as once astutely said, “Mediocre people need representation, too.”
What happens if there is a concerted effort, not to rip the proverbial mike away from the crazies, but to let their rants be fully aired in the context of giving equal-time “context” coverage of the insidious right-wing groups and individuals who spur the armies of crazies. That’s where the curtain needs to be pulled away, to reveal the manipulators behind the town hall scenes.
Where media fails us miserably is in the overarching effort to give equal credibility to opposing views. Hearing a couple of people say on camera, “Nobody told me to come”, masks the fact that the strings of the (often) unwitting pawns are being pulled. Note to media: Stop extrapolating fact from an “n” of 1! Pulling back the curtain and focusing on the puppeteers is where the media focus should lie. Who knows, it might even make a few marionettes see things a bit differently.
I sense that the current manifestation of “crazy” may be truly dangerous as it has a long history in our country that extends back to the very beginning. Did our ancestors want to share the New World with the extant inhabitants, those who were here first. No they were not white and they had a different culture. Genocide the better and quicker way to steal their lands. Next slaves to furnish wealth for the agricultural south, blacks from another country, another culture. Those who could do all the backbreaking work but not demand any of the profits. Yes, my Southern white ancestors had it really neat…at least those who were on top, the land-owners, the business gentlemen. So do you wonder that they “flipped” when slave ownership was threatened and so dragged the South into a carnage that would destroy the whole region and empoverish the South for generations. The wealthy Southerners were able to launch this war because they could convince the poor whites of the South that, being white, they were more privileged and closer in social status to the rich whites than to the black slaves. And so “over the cliff” for all the lemmings. None of this has really gone away everywhere. We saw it again in the brutality of the Civil Rights struggle and in the murder of Martin Luther King. I was in Birmingham in the 50’s and 60’s and in Memphis in 1968, so I know first hand. As one older white relative remarked to me, “I don’t hate blacks; it’s just that either black or white has to be on top and I’m white.” I submit that the “screamers” who want to go back to the Founding Fathers really want to go back to the White Supremacy to which they still believe they are entitled.