An hour ago — with full sincerity — I chided my 12 year-old daughter for a comment she made as we were watching the House debate on the health care. She had heard a comment by an opponent of the health care bill and crossed what I have struggled to teach her about the “civility” line. So I found myself coming up with words that — while sappy and saccharine — I think I still believe.
“It’s true, I said, I don’t agree with what he said either. But this doesn’t mean he is a bad person. In our country we can disagree and still be kind to each other.”
Part of me was gagging with guilt as I said it. I remembered all the distinctly uncivil rage she has seen me express. I knew that she knew that I don’t always live those words. But I still believe that quaint qualities like kindness and decency and civility are anything but quaint.
Then I turned on the television and began to watch the health care debate. And wouldn’t you know that here I am struggling with the civility thing again.
Why is it that, among all the speakers opposing the health care bill, not one representative — not one — started with anything close to the following:
“We rise in opposition to the health care bill. But before we make clear why this is a bad bill, we want to clearly state for the record that we are not blind to the pain of the uninsured and unemployed, we are not blind to the thousands of uninsured children who were taken to emergency rooms today with life-threatening illnesses, we are not blind to productive, employed people who — in a flash — find themselves unemployed and uninsured, we are not blind to the struggles of those in pain. We don’t disagree about compassion, we disagree on how to be compassionate.”
I did not, and have not, heard one opponent say anything close to this. I have not heard one opponent, before launching into his or her argument, give even a tip of the hat to the fact that somebody, somewhere is hurting. Apparently, this wasn’t on the list of approved talking points.
I really do want to hear your argument.
But don’t say anything — NOT ONE THING — before at least one of you makes a simple statement of concern (2 -3 words would count) for all the people who can’t take the time to think about politics when they are busy deciding which of their three kids will get treated first and who will get which medication.
C’mon guys: Say you feel bad. Say you know hurt when you see it. Acknowledge the existence of people who have done everything right but who find themselves uninsured for a whole host of reasons. Then you can dump on the bill to your heart’s content. I’ll even try to listen quietly.
But if you want me or any other supporter of the bill to take your objections seriously, we are waiting to see any sign — OK, I’ll settle for body language or even a wink of the eye — that signals any compassion underlying your obsession with government control.
So far, all I hear about is socialism, the end of free choice, and Nancy “Beelzebub” Pelosi. You think you are right and I think you are wrong. That’s our system. I respect your right to express your views. If you were sitting here now I would listen respectfully.
But I insist on an answer to this question: Why has there not been one opponent today who has who preceded his or her argument with an affirmation of plain, old-fashioned compassion? Couldn’t you have at least lied and pretended that compassion is a fundamental value?
I am still trying to hang in there with civility, but can’t you see how loudly your silence speaks? You have not given us one reason to think your script goes anywhere beyond government control, socialism, and dumping on Nancy Pelosi.
C’mon, compassion isnt controversial, it’s not some rhetorical trick. It is Sunday school stuff and , while I wasn’t always listening during the bible passage, I apparently was awake during the part about sharing and giving and sacrifice.
Your silence speaks volumes. And yes, I grant unanimous consent for you to revise and extend your selfishness.
People have a hard time with separating the politician from their actions/policies.
Let’s just look at the hatred for Obama or even W. Bush. We had/have people on both sides of the aisles just being filled with hatred for both of them. People take it very personally.
Obama is called a commie while Bush was called a fascist. I suppose it comes with a job.
I am one of the “selfish” opponents to this healthcare plan. As a healthcare provider (RN), I see everyday the need for reform. However, I do not see a 4000 page bill that no one can explain as the answer. Even the president and speaker have admitted that the bill will have to be passed to know what is in it. Is this really the reform we need? Do we really need to pass a bill that no one quite understands yet? I truly believe healthcare reform is a must. But I would like to know what law is being passed prior to its passage.
Thanks for taking the time to comment. The basics of the bill are below. The links are a 4 page and a 10 page summary. Below that is a non-partisan list of distortions that are coming from both sides. After you read it, I really would value your opinion about the whole bill or parts of it. And your opinion would received with sincere interest and respect. I am sick of the incivility of this debate.
One reason your opinion would be of interest to me (Im serious) is that the bill’s Republican opponents in the house have done such a scandalously poor job of rationally and calmly explaining the problems with the bill.
True story: I was sitting around with a group of people who, like me, have made an effort to study the bill and who, like me, support it enthusiastically and without reservation.
And each of us having some experience in government, we found oursleves shocked that, while there had to be some flaws and problems with the bill we fully support, we never heard them carefully and rationally diuscussed by the opposition. All we heard was a lot of anger and a lot of yelling aboiut bills getting “shoved down people’s throats” and “goivernment takeovers” and “people losing the freedom to choose.”
You’ll have to trust me that I really did want to hear a reasoned and calm laying out of the points of the opposition. But those who had a chance to persuade us with fact and argument chose simply to yell and salivate and be angry and scare people. They had the right to make a political calculation that their best shot was simply to raise hell without making clear points. But I think they made a fundamental mistake.
Look, I have to be scrupulously honest: I am not saying that their clear and rational arguments woiuld have persuaded me, but my default position is always to listen with respect.
Instead all I heard was silliness, anger and juvenile game-playing and name-calling. Why didnt nthe opponents talk to us like adults?
That’s why your opinion would be of interest.
http://edlabor.house.gov/documents/111/pdf/publications/AHCAA-SUMMARY-102909.pdf (4 page summary of bill)
http://edlabor.house.gov/documents/111/pdf/publications/AHCAA-DETAILEDSUMMARY-102909.pdf (10 page summary of bill)