I was watching Meet the Press with David Gregory with guests Joe Scarborough and Tavis Smiley discussing President Barack Obama’s failure to sell the healthcare reform plan to the American people and, consequently, to both houses of the Congress. The popular belief is that the President took a hands off approach to making a plan and instead simply laid out goals leaving the legislature to work out the details. Unfortunately, this left an opening for some of the President’s political opponents to take advantage of one of the President’s weaknesses. Some of these opponents would rather work to weaken the political position of the other party rather than work to provide honest to goodness healthcare reform to the American people.
Joe Scarborough is a staunch conservative and strongly supports the Republican Party. It was his contention that the President’s plan wasn’t succeeding because of anything the minority of Republican’s in the Congress was doing or not doing. The Democrats in the legislature control both houses of the legislative branch as well as the executive branch. If the Democrats honestly believed in their President, they would support his program. Unfortunately, some Democrats, blue dogs are some of the most notable, come from districts where there isn’t overwhelming support amongst the constituents because of the fear many plant with predictions of death panels and other nonsense. Not all the Democrats want to support their President. Therefore, Mr. Scarborough reasoned, if healthcare reform doesn’t pass, the Republicans have nothing to do with it.
But here’s the problem with such an assumption. The Republicans aren’t exactly walking a neutral path here. The Republicans have a vested interest in watching the President and the rest of the Democrats lose face with the American people. The Republicans have decided to vote against healthcare reform as a bloc and welcome each and every Democrat who joins their effort because each Democrat who turns makes it easier for the President to be defeated and increases the chances of a Republican Party revival during the midterm elections.
If Republicans really want to appear blameless against any defeat with healthcare, they would remove themselves from any vote on the subject instead of coming out as a totally negative bloc. That way, the pass or defeat of the measure truly becomes the responsibility of the other party. But instead, in order to pass a healthcare reform bill the Democrats have to counter each Republican vote against with a vote in favor before there can be any neutral ground. And then what votes remain will determine the fate of healthcare reform. That hardly makes the Republicans impartial and the passage of the bill entirely a Democrats affair.
But this is more of the smoke and mirrors of politics. The Republican Party continues to successfully make the passage or failure of this reform plan appear to be the responsibility of the Democratic Party. And the conservatives continue to play on people’s fear that healthcare reform is going to destroy people’s world. Fears of death panels for the infirm and elderly along with fears of socialism because it’s such an awful concept that benefits no one and other fears like a government chomping at the bit to take over medicine and turn entire hospitals into euthanasia centers hell bent on sending people to places like Burr Oak cemetery are all distractions that keeps us from discussing the real issues of the ever escalating cost of healthcare with so many people being denied healthcare coverage while health insurance companies continue to make wonderful profits.
One fear that is real is that if Mr. Obama and the rest of the Democrats are able to reform healthcare in any meaningful way conservatives know that their impact on the political stage will continue to diminish to levels so insignificant that as a national collective they would barely influence a bond issue regarding a local library.
Real healthcare reform has become Mr. Obama’s Waterloo. It is depicted as a decisive battle that will trigger an end to his political popularity and the resurgence of the Democratic Party. If healthcare reform passes as a bloc the Republican Party can point the finger of fault at the Democrats and say that it is all their fault. If healthcare reform fails, the Republicans will point a different finger to the Democrats and say that they were too disorganized and too unwilling to work with each other to be trusted with the nation’s welfare. It’s a no lose situation for them. Unfortunately, the real losers wouldn’t be the Democrats but the people who’s access to healthcare will continue to languish under a system geared more for making profit than for saving people’s health or life.