Sunday, November 8, 2009

Republican Representatives: “We have no idea what’s going on.”

Overhauling the American healthcare system is an enormous task, which has a very real risk of either being insufficiently helpful or even overtly harmful. The bill which passed in the House yesterday is imperfect- due to the difficulties inherent in trying to fix such a badly broken system, and also due to the fact that your average Representative (from either party) is a terrible human being. A combination of greed, stupidity, and blind partisanship conspires against every piece of legislation that is passed. Democrats are by no means immune to these forces.

But it’s worth noting once more that Republicans are a complete non-entity in the reform debate. Health care legislation has been a central topic for months now, but the Republicans literally didn’t have a substantive plan until last week- and even that was quickly torn to pieces by the CBO for being “fucking disastrous” (my words, not theirs). The signal-to-noise ratio from conservative thinkers and activists has been absurd, with no meaningful thoughts on how to solve real problems emerging from the din. The only thoughts Republicans have had about health care reform concern how to best utilize it to attack Obama and improve their chances in 2010. If Democrats hadn’t made this the centerpiece of this year, the Republicans would have sunk comprehensive reform entirely like they have before.

That’s what makes this video so unbelievable:

I don’t care if these guys don’t know the exact numbers. Even percentages aren’t really important. The fact that none of them can even put forward an estimate is appalling. The concerns of their constituents are apparently beneath their contempt- they know damn well that their districts have uninsured citizens. How many, though? Who cares, whatever, too busy putting together an attack ad to run against the socialist Kenyan. If they had their own plan, with different ideas on how to tackle reform, this video would just be a bit of gotcha journalism. They don’t, though. For Republicans this entire debate is about how to hurt Democrats, not about how to best insure their constituents or repair the system. It leaves them in an awkward place when people start asking questions- witness the man who literally runs away rather than try to weasel out of it like the others.

The Democrats are far from perfect as a party. Plenty of them have been serving their corporate masters and doing their best to shit up reform. But ultimately they’re the only ones with a real chance to deliver something that’ll actually help Americans. The Republicans today call to mind part of a cartoon by Tim Kreider, on the cases made by the political parties for why they deserve your vote:

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