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Health Care Repeal: In Politics, Sometimes The Customer Is Not Always Right

Health Care Repeal: Sometimes the Customer is Not Always Right

If Gallup had existed in Colonial times, we would still be saluting the British flag. At any time of great consequence in our nation’s history, our leaders have led, not governed by opinion polls.

Republicans, in the post-Health Care Reform era, still keep pandering to the crowd.

Sen. Jim DeMint, the mint that never refreshes, announced that he is introducing legislation to repeal the Health Care Reform Act (HCRA). John McCain, facing a frontal assault on his Senate seat by the Tea Baggers, jumped on the repeal bandwagon.

Mitt Romney called for repeal, even though, by most estimations, the HCRA is largely the health care plan which he proposed when he was a candidate for President.

The repeal movement is “not very realistic,” said CNN conservative commentator David Frumm. “Even supposing that Republicans miraculously capture both houses of Congress in November, repeal will require a presidential signature.”

It is a sound-byte. It is posturing, and nothing more.

President Obama has a veto at least through most of the implementation of the HCRA. Republicans also will have a terrible time killing the bill, once their sign-waving, race-baiting minions on Medicare see their prescription plans improve. Either they, a family member, or a friend will be spared having their insurance policy canceled for a pre-existing condition.

They’ll look especially good when they kick millions of people off of Medicaid, and return a few million who are receiving high-risk insurance, thanks to Uncle Sam, back to the emergency rooms and an early grave.

Sure. That will happen.

The Republicans are a party of massive hypocrisies and contradictions, struggling because they can’t swim the political waters, going down for the third time.

They used to govern. The GOP did not respond to massive public polls indicating the huge unpopularity of the war in Iraq until it was too late.

Begrudgingly they stepped up to the plate in reasonable numbers to vote for the bailout of the financial system, all the while decrying the injustice of fixing the problem which they created over the last two decades of deregulation.

Since then, though, the Party of No has stopped governing.

Right now, the party line speaks to an ignored “American People” which as I mentioned earlier this week is a desperate grab for public sentiment:

“The American people are very angry,” John McCain said on Monday. “And they do not like it and we are going to try to repeal this, and we are going to have a very spirited campaign coming up between now and November and there will be a very heavy price to pay for it.”

Right now, most people are apathetic. They care more about their NCAA brackets than the cost of a broken leg. Even, though, if you presume that you speak for the most militant amongst us, though, the customer is not always right in politics.

The Greeks experimented with a purely democratic form of government. Everyone votes. All of the time. It was a spectacular failure.

We have elected officials, and tiers of elected officials, because our patrician ancestors knew not only our strengths, but our vulnerabilities.

The “voice of the people” must be heard. It is up to responsible leaders to process it well, though, and balance out what is the common good versus what are the desires of the vocal minorities, or even a very loud majority.

This is where President Barack Obama has demonstrated the kind of bold leadership that has been missing in Washington D.C. for thirty years. He is governing, not worrying about his next election cycle nearly as much as accomplishing something with the time that he is there.

Love him or hate him, Ronald Reagan was the last president who had a vision of how to reshape the country, and he took it there, as have his minions over the last couple of decades. We now live with the results, accelerated by the village idiot left in charge of the last eight, ruinous years.

Governance means doing one’s best to do right by the American people, not just pander. Even as imperfect as the HCRA is, it moves the ball forward in ways that the multi-billion dollar insurance industry fought tooth-and-nail to prevent. The end of lifetime caps, pre-existing condition waivers, insurance for the uninsurable, and the closure of the donut-hole in Medicare prescription benefits are landmark protections.

Protecting millions of the governed, even when they’re being stampeded into a frenzy of fear by people using them as a means to an end, is a fundamental requirement of the job of not only the President, but every member of the Congress as well.

There are many Republicans on the Hill who privately worry about the strategy of the party’s leadership. Had they worked with Obama, and put more of their stamp on the bill, they would be able to go back to their districts and trumpet the reforms of the legislation that they were able to affect.

They could claim that they actually governed the country during their term. As the party of “No” though, all that they can do is make increasingly large public pronouncements and wing-flaps, and look even more helpless and desperate as long as they refuse to participate in the government to which they were elected.

There is some unintended truth when McCain says that “we are going to have a very spirited campaign coming up between now and November and there will be a very heavy price to pay…”

The Democrats will have a large ad campaign wedge. If the GOP thinks that beating up on congressmen who voted for the HCRA is a winning strategy, I think dropping “Party of No” ad campaigns in against Republican candidates is going to be far more effective.

Consider the hypothetical ad:

[Insert Politician] is part of the Party of “NO!” He voted against improving prescription plans for our seniors on Medicaid, NO on the road projects that are improving our district and providing badly-needed jobs for [city/state] residents, NO on providing health insurance to [quantity of local people] citizens of [city/state]. What is [politician] for? [Her/His} own campaign coffers. [He/She] took millions from the big insurance companies and Wall Street to keep their friends from losing billions of money made off of capping your lifetime insurance and refusing to insure your kids and their pre-existing conditions…”

Oh, there will be a backlash all right, but I would not bet, particularly if the Dems are working on reforming the financial system, the next big project, and working on adding jobs to the roles, that it will be against Democrats.

Add in their lack of control of their vocal supporters shouting racist, sexual and social slurs, and the GOP has lots of problems it has less than six months to really address.

Right now, the GOP’s only hope may be getting on the bandwagon with the Wall Street and Jobs reforms, and look like they can govern this country as part of the loyal minority, rather than the disloyal and obstreperous outsiders.

My shiny two.

About Brian Ross

Brian Ross is a writer, screenwriter, political satirist, documentarian, filmmaker and chef. Ad hoc, ad loc, quid pro quo... so little time. So much to know!

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