Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Open Letter to a Blue Dog

But you never see the lies
you believe

-Elvis Costello, New Lace Sleeves

Health care reform, without a "re-forming" of the corporate-dominated and profit-motivated system we have now, is not reform at all. It awards maximum profit for minimal efficiency. Americans largely took that fact into account when they sent a Democrat to the White House and gave them a Congressional majority. Its success or failure will define this congress. Yet the people who should be most conscious of this truth are the ones embracing the old lies and myths.

Unfortunately, Republican fear mongers have succeeded in hijacking this debate with their rhetorical warhorses: attack-ad phrases such as "Socialism" and "Health rationing". This cynical jargon does not serve honest debate at all. It is intended to distract from the real successes of government-run systems in Europe and in Canada, and to intimidate newly elected Democrats, the so-called Blue Dog Dems. Conservatives will try to play the socialism card one more time, and when these new representatives buy into fear, they are abdicating from leadership they were sent to provide. They are adopting as the major defining characteristic of their first terms the fear of not winning a second.

It is sad that these representatives find it easier to ignore the American mainstream -many of whom are unable, or barely able to, afford health care in a system that values corporate profits over medical efficiency- than to ignore the lobbyists swarming their offices, and the demagogues who would deny 45 million Americans better health care that is less costly and more efficient.

The Republican obstructionistas want us to visualize jack-booted Star Wars Troopers click-clacking down the hospital corridors. It is left to the true leaders in Washington to visualize 40 million uninsured, and 14,000 losing their insurance everyday. There can be no doubt anymore that the private insurance industry lacks the skill or the will to efficiently provide for all Americans. Only the Democrats can provide leadership. Tax credits for people who can't afford to buy health care anyway is not health care reform. The conservatives opposed Medicare 4 decades ago with the same tired negativity that they are using here. Now, Medicare is a documented model for well managed public health efficiency. leadership is needed now, not reflex conservative negativity. Don't let them Swift Boat health care reform.

A mechanism must in place to protect the battered main street Americans who do not have cash laying around to afford health care, no matter how many tax credits are offered. Tax credits mean nothing to a large amount of citizens who can't afford the original premiums anyway.

That mechanism is called government, and placing the needs of all citizens in the forefront of health care reform, rather than a distant second behind profit, is called governing.

I urge all Democrats to advocate for a real reform that provides a strong public option for those the health care industry has ignored. Anything less is a failure, and will be remembered at the polls.

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