I watched most of the "debate" yesterday. There was no better entertainment for a Sunday afternoon (except for a couple college basketball games).
The most interesting part was watching C-SPAN and listening to the callers. Those that were for and against the bill were short on details. Most callers repeated things they heard on whatever TV news network they think is telling them the truth.
To me, this debate looked just like any debate over criminal justice reform - the subject of doing anything, causes people to claim the world is coming to an end. They don't know why, but they know that they've heard this, and it scares them, damn the facts.
When someone tells me they "don't like the health care bill," I always ask, what specific part of the bill do you not like? I haven't received an answer. No one has read the bill. I certainly haven't.
Every social change in this country has brought about division. From letting black kids go to school with white kids, to ruling abortion legal, to instituting a government takeover of health care called "Medicare," to yesterday's health care reform.
It seems that everyone wants some type of change, reform, better tax laws, but when that change is certain, we freak.
I have health care, good health care. I understand that something may change in the next few years and I will have to work harder to maintain that same health care. I'm not scared, regardless of the attempts to scare me, and everyone else.
I see the health care debate as an extension of the debate over our President. In some back room somewhere, his opposition made it clear that this was a victory he could not have. Politics in America is not about society, it's about party. It's about which party can stay in power, period. Once you understand that, you understand it all. If the Republicans were in charge, the Democrats would be fighting health care reform at every step.
Each party has an agenda. In sum, the Democrats are about social issues, and the Rebublicans are about fiscal conservatism. There are those in each party who believe in the ideals of the other. This is where compromise happens. But when it comes to major change, each party wants to be the one that created the change. It sets up the next election (although in this case the Republicans claim last nights vote will cause them to become the majority party - who knows?).
The point is, whether it's health care, or criminal justice reform, whenever the issue of serious change comes up, the lies come out, the tempers flair, the name calling becomes a daily occurrence.
And very little happens.
Brian Tannebaum is a criminal defense lawyer in Miami, Florida practicing in state and federal court, and the author of The Truth About Hiring A Criminal Defense Lawyer.
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