Thursday, September 10, 2009

Can an Apple a Day Keep Politicians at Bay?

In his speech to Congress yesterday, our President charted his course for health care reform, providing all the right soundbites to help convince the country that his initiatives are a vital step towards a greater America.

And in the grand scheme of things, he sounded quite convincing.

The problem is, while broad sweeping strokes sound good in prime time, it's the devil in the details that results in political deadlocks.

On Wednesday, that devil proved to be Representative Joe Wilson (pictured above), the South Carolina Republican who yelled, "You lie!" in the midst of President Obama's comments regarding illegal aliens and health care benefits.

While there is no denying that what Wilson said was unprofessional and out of line, there is also no denying that Democrats are guilty of the same behavior. Difference is, when more than half the chamber does it collectively, it's seen as acceptable. When one person does it on his own, it's an uncalled for voice of dissent.

Every time President Obama paid reference to our former President in a negative light, made any suggestion of partisan chicanery, or gestured any remotely conservative ideal with even a fleeting tone of sarcasm, every Democrat in the room leapt to their feet to voice their approval with a thunderous round of applause.

And every Republican sat in their seat and sulked.

It's like grade school all over again.

The bullies have the power, and it's a mob rules mentality. If you don't like getting picked on, get off the playground.

Problem is, these are grown men we're talking about, not adolescents starving for attention. Instead of pushing, shoving, tripping and punching, we have snide remarks cloaked in speeches, rapturous support of any mockery of the other side, and a generally uncomfortable feeling for those of us trying to educate ourselves while we watch from home.

Does a mention of health care reform really need to reference the war in Iraq? It's apples and oranges, and political bait-and-switch at its best.

How do we sway people to a cause that needs more support in public opinion polls? Remind them that it's not nearly as bad as the war the last President started... "You mean you can spend this much money on a war in Iraq, but you can't spend less money on health care?"

If only it was that simple.

In theory, I believe everything President Obama is saying about our country's need for health care reform. Problem is, I'm so turned off by the grand-standing mentality that is rampant in politics, I find it hard to truly get inspired to do more than be cynical.

A friend of mine who works for a prominent politician likened his allegiance to his party to my being a fan of the New York Yankees or Green Bay Packers. "This is my sports," he's told me on more than one occasion. "And I'm going to cheer for my side just like you cheer for your favorite team."

Not quite.

When I heard that the Packers might have been interested in signing convicted animal abuser and killer Michael Vick this summer, I swore on principal that I'd no longer be a fan of the team if management made the decision to bring the scumbag to Green Bay.

My friend, on the other hand, told me that - and I quote - "any Democratic initiative is better than any Republican initiative, regardless of what it accomplishes."

That's what being tied to a party is all about, he tells me.

And that is why I swear allegiance to no political party.

It's all a joke. It's a bunch of grade school bullies puffing their chests and playing the role of peacock, engaging in alpha-male posturing that makes them feel better about themselves, and leaves the American people to pay the tab.

There is no sound argument against the need for radical changes to our country's health care infrastructure. Yet rather than working together for the best interests of the people that elect them, our sworn leaders are nit-picking and playing Polly Anna as they hide behind Robert's Rules of Order.

The unfortunate reality is, too many of today's politicians are coming across as little more than rhetoric spewing mouthpieces who'd rather cloak their insecurities in partisan policy than work together towards a common goal.

We need a new health care system in this country. What we don't need, is the years of prolonged drama that it will take to get us there.

Unfortunately, it appears that we can't have one without the other.


Adam Bernard said...

Good piece. I can't stand politics because of that one, terrifying, idea that everyone in a party always thinks whatever their party says is better than what the other party says. It's so unbelievably destructive and why I keep my views as Libertarian as possible.

Anonymous said...

As the aforementioned friend, let me say a couple of things. A. what Joe Wilson did was unprecedented. Sure, both parties clap when their guy says something they like and moan or maybe even boo when he says something they don't. That's how it's always been as long as I've been watching these things. Like it or not, that's what they do. What Joe Wilson did -- heckled the president, called him a liar -- has no equivalent on the left. The "both sides do it" argument simply doesn't fly.

And B. as for my political philosophy, what you quote me as saying is the simplified cliff's notes version that doesn't begin to get to the heart of it. I'll e-mail you off blog with my full response.

tony said...

A very sensible opinion - and I say that as a Republican who is tired of knee-jerk reactions and the verbal bloodsport of modern politics. I'd much rather hear civil, factual, well-reasoned arguments that lead to constructive action.