A Bit 'o Random Musings on Politics, Religion, and Anything Else That Passes Through My Crazy Head

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Health Care - We Did It!

I've been so busy lately that I have not celebrated the legislative victory of President Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid. This was one of the moments that I was dorky enough to watch on TV. As I was watching it, I though about how glad I was that I live in a democracy. I am so lucky and blessed in that regard!

Now, this post is not to say that the Health Care Bill is perfect. In my mind, one of its strengths is that the bill has things that both the left and the right don't like. As the saying goes "a good compromise leaves everybody unhappy." But a recent post by a friend about how unhappy she was with the bill has caused me to think about how I would respond to her, and my many Republican friends, in their charges against the health care bill. From talking with them, I think these are some of their main arguments:

1. The bill will provide government funding for abortion.
2. The bill is not supported by a majority of Americans.
3. The bill impinges on individual freedom.
4. The bill is unconstitutional.
(Now, please tell me if I'm not being fair or leaving out any important points to you)

I'd like to address points number 1 and 2, and address 3 & 4 in a more in depth post later. I'm going to avoid using scriptural based reasoning, because I don't like it when people use scriptures to push their own political agenda (tho I have been guilty of it on occasion).

Claiming that someone who voted for the Health Care bill wants to kill babies is as ludicrous as saying that Republicans who voted against the Health Care bill want all the people who are dying without health insurance to die. Bart Stupak, a pro-life Democrat, voted for the bill. People have condemned him for it, but I applaud him for valuing life, including a baby's life after he or she is born. I really liked Stupak's OpEd in the Post about why he was voting for the bill. I think the pro-life movement has it wrong on health-care, because there are many reasons that health care reform will actually reduce the number of abortions in this country.

I think we better face up to the fact that abortion is going to be legal in the U.S. in the long term. What we can do, instead of being counterproductive in accusing others, is work to reduce the number of abortions. There are methods to do this - sex education in schools, better pre-natal care, increasing penalties on dads who don't pay child support, and, YES, health care. In fact, I think health care reform will reduce the number of abortions by providing health care to moms pre- and post- birth. Women are more likely to go through with a pregnancy when they know they and their child will have access to affordable health care. Having health care also means that women have access to birth control, which reduces the risk for unplanned pregnancy, thus reducing the demand for abortions. Please don't label me as pro-abortion because I support health care.

Public Support

Many people pointed to the high number of protests and anti-health care phone calls to Congress, as well as polls showing public opposition, as a reason not to pass the health care bill. Two points: (1) people were not universally opposed to the health care bill as you might think and (2) this a dumb reason not to do something.

First, while some polls showed a majority against the bill, many of the individual provisions, such as requiring coverage of pre-existing conditions, were very popular. In most cases, the "against" vote hovered around 50%. This hardly means a wholesale rejection of the bill. It does show deep division, but this leads me to my second point: are we supposed to do what's right or what's popular? Representatives voted for the bill because they believed it was the right thing to do, and I respect that. Disagree with them? Vote 'em out of office!

Mormons in particular are proud of going against public opinion. I think that many representatives voted for the health care bill even though they knew it would likely cost them their jobs in November, and in my mind that shows political courage and a willingness to do what they believed in even if it wasn't popular. This prong of the debate goes to the heart of what it means to be in a representative democracy. There are two ways you can look at a "representative." Option #1: Representatives should do exactly what their constituents want, voting how their constituency would vote if it could be in congress. Option #2: Representatives should do what's in the best interests of their constituents, even if it's not politically expedient. I'm not saying one of these views is better than the other, but if you are thinking to yourself that Option #1 is how democracy should work, then I hope you're consistent. I hope you thought we should pull out of Iraq once a majority of Americans were against the war. I hope you support current efforts to let homosexuals serve openly in the military (70% popular support). I hope you supported the resignation of President Bush when his approval rating fell to historic lows. If you don't/didn't support those things, then it's hypocritical to argue against health care reform for that reason - let's talk about the merits of the bill.

As always, I end with an apology for the length of the post. Please do leave your comments and thoughts - if I'm not responsive PLEASE don't be offended - I'll be on vacation with limited email access for a while.