Edited on 5/12 for Typos.
Let me get this out of the way right now, I believe healthcare, the coverage needed to see a doctor on a yearly basis, health maintenance and elder care are rights we should have in the richest, most productive country in the world. Unequivocally, every man, woman, and child who is a citizen of the United States should be covered either privately or under a public option. There is no logical, rational or economic reason we shouldn’t be able to do this. We’ve completely restructured our society and economy around war, which demonstrates a clear threat to us and our livelihoods (or NOT: i.e. every modern war post WW2) we have mobilized against threats both concrete and conceptual and with all our might, forced our country to conform to a new reality, so why can’t we do this to take care of each other?
We cast doubt on the poor and helpless, on people who supposedly drain the resources of the country and take advantage of all the social programs and “freebies” they get handed to them without the reservations or drug testing so prevalent on Wall Street or in Boardrooms. Why is it wrong to give everyone the possibility of a long and better life yet still allow employers and bankers who prey on the very same people the ability to do so with impunity with little or no consequences? When the average high school graduate earns about as much as the average undergrad (yes it’s 2014 data but with rampant income stagnation I highly doubt there is any major movement here) and is saddled with crushing debt its sad that we haven’t made college free as well, but I digress.
We are demonstrating a fratricidal tendency in this country. Instead of being a family, one who takes care of each other keeps each other and tends to each other’s wounds we are poisoning the water of our brother and sisters houses and killing them in the process.
The House’s passing of the revamped, pre-CBO scored so-called American Health Care Act is one of the most disgusting nakedly greedy and soulless pieces of legislation proposed in this decade. It scales back preexisting conditions provisions, creates already fail-proven high-risk pools and removes penalties for not securing coverage with over a dozen more really bad ideas. It does so in the name of “choice” a great buzzword but one that ignores the fact that most of us have none, to begin with. Like the allure of “liberty”, a word so rife with consequential elitism but so unknown in that respect by the average Joe, choice refers to something only really the financial elite possess.
But it is the dream of all of us that we can achieve this freedom. Within the already paralyzing revelation that we really have none, within our increasing levels of control exact 1/10th of 1 percent of our destinies outcome we try so hard to use each other as a measure of that little control we have over our universes. We try, and ultimately fail to become famous, or infamous, we try to be forces for good or notorious, we try to become immortal but in the end, the briefest of times ticks records our deeds.
We believe that our small eternities, our families ticks on the clock, our minuscule appearances upon the universe’s stage actually amount to something grander and we personalize that time to mean “us.” Instead of living like a giant organism and accepting that we all have sympathetic and, dare I say symbiotic, responsibilities. Accepting that our limited choice can be used to serve the greater good or destroy goodwill, makes us vulnerable, and we don’t like that one bit.
So what does all this have to do with snatching health coverage from millions of people, many of which voted for its removal in the first place? Everything.
Our mindset in this country is very different from it is in the rest of the world. We value a strange mix of things that are often at odds with each other, often conflict and sometimes contradict. Our collective identity is at once strong and fragmented, we use patriotism as a blunt object to both unify and divide and we have a national identity that is as much myth as it is fact. We are also very, very young.
Transcending this is a tough task, the reactive tendency to believe what we feel without fact checking what our words actually mean, has put us in a rhetorical bind. We cannot seem to get past the fact that we should be treating each other as family and not warring tribes. We are all Americans. Every man, woman, child, everyone of their decided gender or the genderless, every person who walks as a born or naturalized American citizen is our brother, sister, sibling…
We need to take care of each other, as families often do. We need to look past the Thanksgiving our cousin Guido ruined the family rug with his cigar, or the time Auntie Carol got so drunk she threw up in the newborn’s crib, we have to forgive our nephew Amir for falling in with the wrong crowd and getting caught with a pack of Newports in the school bathroom, we have to stop blaming Xiang for forgetting our birthday, most of all we have to honor not only Crispin and Gary for their commitment to each other and recommit to our family again.
Just because we look and sound a bit different, doesn’t make us any less family.
We should start treating each other that way.