Op-Eds Speaking Truth to the Powers-That-Be
The Tea Party should more appropriately be called the Me Party.
There is a feeling of callousness and disdain for the poor floating around in the air lately. It is a chronic malady of the American spirit. Like a virus, it eats at our hearts first, then heads to the brain to keep the two from ever connecting. That disconnect permanently allows us, as a society, to turn a negligent eye to those of us who are hurting the most.
Our public sickness, a cold for centuries that is morphing into a super virus, was best expressed last week by the round of applause given Dr. Ron Paul in the September rounds of Republican debates.
During the recent CNN/Tea Party debate, Congressman Ron Paul, a medical doctor, answered a question from the moderator, Wolf Blitzer. Blitzer presented a hypothetical case of a 30 year old male who elects not to take health insurance. This person ends up in a coma. Whose job is it to see to it that he has care?
ABC News reports:
“What he should do is whatever he wants to do and assume responsibility for himself,” Paul responded, adding, “That’s what freedom is all about, taking your own risk. This whole idea that you have to compare and take care of everybody…”
The audience erupted into cheers, cutting off the Congressman’s sentence.
After a pause, Blitzer followed up by asking “Congressman, are you saying that society should just let him die?” to which a small number of audience members shouted “Yeah!”
Dr. Paul, an OB-GYN said of his experience getting out of medical school in the 1960s that “the churches took care of them,” meaning the poor and uninsured.
“We never turned anybody away from the hospital,” he said. “We’ve given up on this whole concept that we might take care of ourselves or assume responsibility for ourselves. Our neighbors, our friends, our churches would do it.”
Yet it is that vast number of uninsured Americans that use the emergency room for general care that is costing the American medical system millions of dollars. It is also one of the chief complaints of Republicans about misuse of current public assistance for medical care. The bottom line is that hospitals don’t want the poor. The churches aren’t flush enough to take care of their health care. So they die for lack of care if the government doesn’t find a reasonable way to care for all of our citizens.
At the previous GOP debate at the Reagan Library on September 8th, when Moderator Brian Williams asked Governor Rick Perry about his record of executing 234 death row inmates, a figure that Williams said was “more than any other Governor in modern times.” 
Again, the audience broke into applause. They actually applauded the taking of human life.
I personally am on the fence about capital punishment, but even in the event that I was in favor of state-sponsored execution, or involved in placing that judgement on another, I imagine that wouldn’t be a decision I could make without it leaving a scar on my heart. It would certainly never merit applause or cheering.
Possible redeeming qualities in the campaign of The Executioner himself, Governor Rick Perry, such as his implementation of The Dream Act in Texas, or his mandate that all young girls receive the HPV vaccine known as Gardasil, were demonized as the crowd booed any sort of amnesty for the children of illegal immigrants. Michele Bachmann made him seem like a man on the “take” for hating cancer.
During last week’s debate, the audience booed a man serving in Iraq because he was able to come out as gay and keep his job thanks to the nullification of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”.
This is what our country has become? This heartless clawing at each other as we turn a cold shoulder on those most in need, or tell our fellow man in the richest nation on Earth that they’re on their own? We are tripping over each other so we don’t end up under the bus ourselves.
Doesn’t this seem wrong to anyone else?
It seems as though the latest efforts by the Tea Party, the con-artists formerly known as the Evangelical wing of the GOP, are to rewind much of our progress of the last century from abortion and contraception to voting rights.
Change we can’t and should not believe in is being made in Ohio, Wisconsin, Florida and Maine .States like Michigan have cut back the amount of time someone can collect cash welfare benefits. . After that, in a time, particularly in Michigan, where there are fewer and fewer jobs, with no way to work, where do these people go? What do their children eat?
There are many other states following this lead of turning from the middle class punching bag to the poor punching bag. If either of those two groups are prepared to fight back, it isn’t going to be the poor. That club that no one wants to join has grown to epidemic numbers, aided since the 2010 elections by hard Right GOP slash-and-burn governmental policy aimed at marginalizing the poor even more.
According to the US Census Bureau, since 2007 the poverty rate has been steadily increasing, jumping 2.6% inching the number upward from 12.5% to 15.1% in 2010.  That translates to 46.2 million people who live below the federal poverty line, which in ,2010, set at $22,050.00 per year for a family of four. 
On Hardball with Chris Matthews last week, Congressman Bernie Sanders from Vermont stated that the poor are likely to live 6 years less than other members of society. This is because they have little to no access to healthcare, poor nutrition and often work low-end labor jobs for companies that either have no medical or very little. They work without the pay to cover the high costs of minor or major medical care. This is acceptable to us? Should we cheer the CEO who got the 2008 multi-million bonus for firing the quota of people making a living wage that could have been paid for by that bonus?
In every society in human history, including those that have tried to tinker with the social class structure, there have always been rich, middle and poor. 46.2 million people aren’t all of the usual cast offs of society. Many of that group owned a home three years ago. They had an excellent job that closed up shop after Wall Street took financial nuclear weapons to the bedrock of American life: Home ownership.
Perhaps the man in the Ron Paul hypothetical used to have insurance. When he lost his job, he lost his benefits. What if he simply could not afford the $200-$300 monthly premium for insurance? The 700-900/monthly bill if he has a wife and kids? What then? Does he still get turned out by the hospital to die? He made “the right” choices, but people with far more money made the wrong ones that he couldn’t help or anticipate.
We begrudge a family food stamps, or tar and feather those who take welfare honestly. Welfare has a small percentage of scammers, but it does not mean the whole show should close up shop. It means that reform is needed to close up the loopholes that people who game the system use.
This isn’t the first time in our short history that this has happened, nor will it be the last. What is particularly disheartening about this current scrooge cycle, is that it appears to give a handful of the wealthy and powerful the ability to crush the rest of us. Lobbying and corporate interests have trumped the needs of most of the American people. Only a small percentage of Americans have benefited from the downturn of the last few years.
The Tea Party and GOP don’t know the ingredients to what they are selling. They don’t care enough to find out.
In a letter to Colonel William F. Elkins in 1864, Abraham Lincoln warned of this future danger:
“I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and cause me to tremble for safety of my country; Corporations have been enthroned, an era of corruption in High Places will follow, and the Money Power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the People, until the wealth is aggregated in a few hands, and the Republic destroyed.” 
Corporate contrived wedge issues are a sickening package filled with expensive commercials and incessant brain washing to convince hundreds of thousands of us to throw our neighbors under the bus, to vote for the guy who is working for people screwing over your best interests, while smiling in your face and promising you the world.
This is AMERICA! We are not people who applaud unnecessary death. Nor are we people who look at a dying man and say “It’s your fault: You should have bought insurance.” We are better than that.
The more that this country’s political power structure shifts to the Right, the more the true nature of the Right comes out.
How can they say that Liberals are Godless when so-called evangelical Christians of the GOP are preaching a lack of compassion so against whichever Bible their church uses to preach? I’ll never understand why a group of people who fight so hard to ensure the role of God in everything Government, would fight equally as hard to rid us of Religion’s best notion: compassion.