August 13, 2009

Populist Rage: Shouting Down Health Care

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 3:01 am by fuckyourfavoritedreams

The term “populism,” in my mind, always brings forth thoughts of an unwieldy, tyrannous, uneducated public demanding something illogical from their representatives. It reminds me of the AIG bonus scandal, with people shouting for the names and addresses of the employees. It’s scary, it’s irrational, and it’s violent. It is the core of the human id*, manifested. The recent town hall “debates”/debacles are populism.

Though debate has never been particularly valued by the majority of Americans, but the recent town hall meetings have been a particularly poor example of the art of debate. Fox News has painted this as an uprising of unhappy citizens (and the government had better comply or things will get violent). People are shouting their opinions and not listening to the rebuttal– instead they are threatening violence. Fox News is then taking the angriest of these people on their shows and making them the new image of the health care debate.

There was a segment on the Colbert Report with instructions on how to make your argument sound more threatening at a town hall. Sit near the front and shout. Cry if you have to, just make the representative feel like shit. After all, you pay for their salary. Shout whatever you can to keep him from talking. It really frustrates me that this could even be considered as “debate” or even “dialogue” by any human being. Debate thrives on be rational, calm, and non-personal. Town hall meetings are none of these things.

And if anyone gets kicked out of these meetings for any reason, it becomes a talking point for Fox News. They say that the representative is “hiding” from his/her constituents. They don’t want it kept civil, because if it is kept civil, the democrats win. If there are any real points made, the democrats win.

Because the truth of the matter is, health care, by all means, should be a right. If one asks themselves that honestly, then the answer is obviously yes. Health care is the reason that humans live past 30 years old. It is extremely vital to our existence. It is something that has been ignored for far too long. As one of the conservative protesters said:

“I see nowhere in the Constitution where health care is a right…. I want to hear it from Obama, I want to hear it from Pelosi, about how this is about ‘We the people.’“

The argument falls flat, obviously, because the constitution is an imperfect document that should not limit our rights, but rather provide as much of a base for our concept of rights as possible. Our Bill of Rights is an amendment to our Constitution, and there is a reason that we can make more amendments. In fact, the ninth amendment protects our rights that were unmentioned in the Bill of Rights.

Other first-world countries have already surpassed our health care in quality and breadth considerably, and have deemed health care as an inalienable right. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights includes health care, and it is a shame to see the United States fall so far behind the precedent that others are setting for us.

*I use this term metaphorically. I’m not a Freudian and I don’t like his unfalsifiable remarks about the human psyche.