Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Is the Diagnosis of the Health Care Debate that Democracy is Sick?

Ezra Klein thinks that it isn't Health Care Reform that is sick, but rather Democracy:

...the questions reformers have to answer is not "when did you stop beating your wife?" It's "what will prevent you from beating your wife?" Given that there is no such thing as a "death panel," nor any policy provision that would establish such a thing, it is hard to explain the institutional checks that would prevent a "death panel" from coming into being. When you have to explain why your bill won't create death panels, and what will make sure that it doesn't, you've pretty much lost the argument.


What we're seeing here is not merely distrust in the House health-care reform bill. It's distrust in the political system. A healthy relationship does not require an explicit detailing of the "institutional checks" that will prevent one partner from beating or killing the other. In a healthy relationship, such madness is simply unthinkable. If it was not unthinkable, then no number of institutional checks could repair that relationship. Similarly, the relationship between the protesters and the government is not healthy. The protesters believe the government capable of madness. There is no evidence for that claim, which means that there is no answer for it, either. That claim is not about what is in this bill, or what government has done in Medicare and Medicaid and the VA. It is about what a certain slice of Americans think their government -- and by extension, their fellow citizens -- capable of.

How does a country get to a point when the discourse about, in this case, health care reform has morphed into the actual belief by some members of society that senior citizens will be euthanized if reforms to the system are passed? More importantly, how does this belief (and others) become legitimized when there is no such provision in the actual bills that are being proposed? Klein thinks that it indicates a fundamental distrust of the government, even to the point where opponents of health care reform are willing to believe that the government could euthanize their own citizens. What does this mean really? Perhaps that this movement isn't rooted in a concern about health care reform, but rooted in a blind hatred for the government. Members of this movement don't need to have their rage backed up by factual information; they feel that they can accomplish their goals through anger and opposition.

You see it in video after video, outrageous claims are being made about this legislation and yet I wonder if simply countering these claims with statements like "no where in this legislation does it say what you are claiming", is going to be enough?

Alaska Teabagger Rally in Anchorage 8/10/09 from Dennis Zaki on Vimeo.

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