Alan Zendell, May 3, 2017
I know I’ve said this before. I’ll keep saying it as long as there’s at least one American who doesn’t get it. Health care in the United States isn’t about caring for people or whatever we think belongs in the basket of basic human rights. It’s about money. More specifically it’s about the battle over transfer of wealth. That’s why we hear pejorative terms like “entitlements” when the conversation should be about children born with chronic conditions or adults with diabetes or cancer, a perfect example of doublespeak.
No one should be surprised that the Republicans are having so much trouble agreeing on the very simple idea that preexisting conditions should not disqualify people from affordable health care. I would guess that if the question were put to a public referendum it would score up there with not killing puppies and protecting the American flag.
Money is not the root of all evil, and billionaires are not greedy and insensitive by nature; there are sufficient examples of people whose hearts are as big as their wallets in public life to prove that. But the people who disagree with most Americans on health care are those who have a lot of money and don’t want any of it spent on other people’s needs. That’s a basic fact of life in America today. It’s indisputable.
If all of that’s true, you might ask why the political party in power has a view that is so disproportionate, so completely out of step with the people they represent. Why, when the electorate is 53% female does a sizable percentage of the ruling party not believe women’s health issues are as important as, say, how many yachts their benefactors own? Could it be because when people enter the voting booth they’ve been distracted by well-crafted television ads that subtly and insidiously tell us everyone else is selfish and greedy, and that candidates who want to assure that people have what they need only want to increase taxes so government can get bigger?
Huge sums of money are spent on consultants who are experts in convincing people to believe things that aren’t in their self-interest. If people could vote directly on health care, almost every American family would put it at the top of their priority list, but instead it gets caught up in hate-mongering and saber-rattling and the result is a Congress that appears incapable of doing the right thing. Maybe that’s why its approval rating can’t get out of the twenties.
What’s the solution? Suppose we had a president who was a brilliant negotiator and deal maker. Suppose in addition that when all the nonsense of the political campaign was in the past, he was someone who really meant it when he said he cared about all Americans. Suppose he put his incredible talents of persuasion to work where they would do the most good.
It’s one thing to run a populist campaign and call the current president incompetent and the Congress corrupt. It’s easy to promise you’re going to drain the swamp of lobbyists and special interests, when your only goal is stirring up anger among the electorate and convincing them that you’re the white knight they’ve been waiting for.
My message to President Trump is this. Now’s the time to govern and show people what you’re really made of. Instead of playing to the crowd for applause, take a stand for what you know is right. Now that you have the power you sought, show us that all your anger at the government when you were a businessman was more than bluster. Use your bully pulpit as it was meant to be used. Stand up for what the people really want and let those who put personal greed above the common good know that they’ll pay a heavy price next year when the voters speak again.
Be the president you promised to be, and you might actually expand your base of support beyond the forty percent who voted for you. Keep doing things like that and you might even win me over.