Here’s To Your Health

Well, we’re about 12 hours past the House approving the health care bill, and from what I saw on my drive in to work this morning, the country still exists.

The popular opinion is that the Democrats have slit their own throats, that come November, all the Tea Partiers will turn out en masse to vote the bums out.  Which could very well  happen — the civil rights legislation passed in the 60s did a real number on the Democrats for decades — but there’s also a good chance it might not.

The big mistake the Republicans made here was to adopt an all or nothing approach to their opposition, and in turn embracing the extreme fringe elements on the right.  They essentially removed compromise from the table.  They had to fight the Democrats tooth and nail, and utterly defeat them, or else they’d been seen as weak by those whose support they so actively courted.  And now that the bill has passed, with almost no input from the Republicans, well, how can that be seen as anything but a defeat?  A more reasoned approach, where the Democrat’s plan was looked on as a groundwork rather than something to be stamped out and destroyed, could have led to a bill with equal Republican input, with both sides being able to boast that they reformed health care.  Now, the Republicans have lost the battle.  And, if people begin softening towards the bill as the more immediate benefits hit later this year, they risk looking even worse by having been against it.

I also wonder how much resolve the Tea Partiers have.  Now that their cause celebre has been defeated — now that they haven’t “killed the bill” — I imagine some of them will shrug, put their signs away, and go back to just nodding along with Rush and Beck (the talk show hosts, not the musicians; I wouldn’t have a problem with the Tea Partiers if they were in to Signals and Odelay).

The bottom line is that so much of this wrangling over health care has struck me as nothing more than arguing over the cost of a tourniquet while the patient is bleeding to death.  As a civilized nation, we should never be forcing our citizens into the choice between putting food on the table or paying for their medicine.  We should never have to see a parent unable to get medical care for their child because an insurance company deems it bad for business.  This bill isn’t going to be all sunshine and daffodils, but it’s a needed first step.  And it’s more than anyone on the opposition side has tried to do pretty much ever.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I just got a phone call that I’m being forced to drive an illegal immigrant to the emergency room.

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