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Posts Tagged ‘Elections’

One of the latest things the McCain Campaign has been pushing is that middle-ground voters shouldn’t elect Obama because it would give the dems control of the Senate, House and presidency. Moreover, it looks like the dems are close to gaining the filibuster-proof 60 seats in the Senate.

I disagree with McCain that middle-ground voters should elect him over Obama. Put simply, I believe Obama’s plans for our economy and his views on the Iraq war are a bit better and more thought out than McCain’s.

However, I do agree with McCain and others that the Dems having a filibuster-proof Senate is a bad thing. I want legislation to be critiqued and challenged, refined and improved. I also want bills to be inclusive and mindful of conservative values and needs.

One of the main gripes I had with the Bush administration was that there was such an air of “my way or the highway” about policies. There wasn’t any middle ground sought. Either you fashioned bills precisely the way that the Bush camp wanted or he vetoed them. This severely limited the effectiveness of Congress and the Senate and a lot of important issues went unaddressed or were dropped from the agenda because there was just no point to bringing them up.

Now, electing John McCain when there’s a Dem-controlled Senate and House is also a bad idea because he’ll likely just continue the Bush-esque tactics of vetoing anything that comes across his desk that doesn’t fit with his world view–or worse, he may veto good bills just because he doesn’t want to be seen as being “pushed around” or giving into the Dems. On one hand, I imagine he’d veto things outright less than Bush. On the other hand, McCain has demonstrated he’ll act out of anger and spite… a toxic combination for good policy-making.

Put simply, not all Democrat ideas are good just as not all Republican ideas are good. However, when there’s a way to challenge an idea and it has to stand up to scrutiny of people with different views, you tend to get better, more refined products that then better serve the people.

I do think Democrats having the White House and majorities in Congress and the Senate is fine because we really need to be able to get a LOT of stuff done in the next four years and any ideological road blocks similar to what the Bush admin has practiced will really hurt us in the short- and long-run… people are losing their homes NOW. People are jobless NOW.

Yet there still needs to be checks and balances and there still needs to be a reality check provided by the Republicans to ensure the Dems don’t just pull the same shit the Bush administration did, but where the only difference is that their poorly-crafted ideologically-driven policies cater to the other side of the aisle.

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Everyone is talking about the elections, the primaries and the candidates. The media conglomerates are in a tizzy over who said what, comparing each front-runner to the next, and making predictions over who will ultimately win the chance to make a run for the White House.

The “issues” of this year’s race have been defined and we see many of the Usual Suspects return to the docket:

  • Iraq / Iran / war
  • The economy
  • Health Care
  • Abortion
  • Climate Change
  • Immigration

Today I’ll pick Health Care and run with it.

So what’s the debate? Or, a more interesting question that is on my mind is, “What are the limits of the debate?”

Currently, when talking about health care, you have republicans making references to some magical free market influences and all of the front-runners are in favor of a “consumer-based system” of some kind. They toss around buzzwords like “deregulation” and extol their stalwart efforts to avoid “raising taxes.”

Democrats say different things and have different suggestions, but the “debate” never leaves a narrow channel of discourse. The Dem. front-runners talk about health care for all, a laudable goal. Their buzzwords are “government subsidy” and “repealing” or “ending” the Bush tax cuts to pay for their plans.

A few Dems share ideas with their counterparts across the aisle and push the notion that their plans are superior because their solutions offer a healthy number of health insurance choices for the American consumer. The tacit capitalist assumption here is that this large number of choices will promote competition and therefore keep the costs of health care reasonable.

Sure, there are some fringe views and different plans of attack regarding the Health Care Problem, but of course, the entire debate is predicated on a huge assumption: Paying a private company for health insurance is a necessary and legitimate practice.

Completely absent from the debate are challenges to this notion. Furthermore, any mention that our health care system is in shambles because of the extraordinarily high costs of paying a third party for a service they almost never make good on is just as taboo. There is no call by any of the front-running candidates to tear apart this illegal, corrupt and immoral institution despite the volumes of evidence we can all read about or, worse yet, may have experienced in our daily lives.

The story is typical: Americans pay their hard-earned money to these health insurance companies assuming that, when tragedy strikes, they will be covered. They will be safe. Of course, as hundreds of studies and thousands upon thousands of personal experiences have shown, the truth of the matter is quite the opposite. I’d even go as far as to say the average health insurance consumer is being cheated and outright abused. Anyone who has had to take an insurance company to task for an inappropriate denial of coverage or an outlandish bill will know exactly what I mean.

But we can’t bring this up. This isn’t an acceptable position to take within the “debate.” Instead, we’re supposed to choose the plan of a presidential hopeful that promises to drain the least amount of money from our pockets and marrow from our bones.

According to the limits of the discussion, the insurance companies have a right to exist… their function and place in society is assumed valid and useful even despite the horrendous track record of abuses, corruption and fraud that can be found with just a cursory examination of any of them. The moral issues… the human rights issues… are irrelevant and quietly dismissed before they can enter the discourse.

Maybe it’s time to change the scope of the discussion. There couldn’t be a better opportunity to put pressure on the candidates than now, while they are still duking it out amongst their peers for a shot at the title. Once the Primaries are over, each side will rest comfortably upon the ability to highlight the “differences” of their plan with their opponent and any thought of addressing the underlying assumption I’ve mentioned here will likely be lost entirely.

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