Phony Political Arguments

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I already regret starting this post. If I said everything I feel like saying, I’d be typing for a few days…

Background

I am sick of both parties, and 95% of all politicians. I voted for John McCain (in principle only, since I understand that my vote in NY for a Republican Presidential candidate is 100% meaningless). I think McCain was the worst of the Rep candidates, and would have been an ineffective President. Still, I thought that the additional check and balance from an overwhelmingly Democrat controlled congress would have been better than the alternative.

While I believed (and still do) that Barack Obama was mesmerizing people with empty words (Hope and Change), I would gladly have voted for him if the congress were overwhelmingly controlled by Republicans, because McCain would not have been an effective check on them!

Our Friends

The majority of our friends are Democrats, mostly very Liberal as well. They all voted for Obama not just because he was the Dem candidate, but because they felt that they were voting for America’s messiah.

We don’t choose our friends lightly. Ask them, they’ll tell you that we are fiercely loyal friends, who are there in times of need, and there to share in all of life’s joys and challenges, in whatever way we possibly can.

We respect each and every one of our friends, in particular their intelligence. The vast majority of them are also extremely kind people, filled with compassion for others, passion for many things, and interesting in many ways to boot. (We picked them for a reason, right?)

The Problem

That the country is divided politically is no surprise, and certainly doesn’t warrant a blog post. That otherwise very intelligent people, who have great affection and respect for each other (meaning, not random strangers), can’t even acknowledge differing opinions, let alone understand them, is the real cancer in our current society.

For eight years, the anti-Bush rhetoric was beyond the pale. No, I’m not defending everything Bush did, and I think on some levels he was an awful President (see, someone who votes for a guy can actually think that his guy wasn’t flawless). Any kind of public protest was covered as heroic. Anyone who said that they were Bush supporters (or generically supporters of the President of the USA) were vilified and demonized.

Ultimately, the problem isn’t that we all don’t agree to support one guy (or gal), one party, etc. The problem is that for most people, the passion and belief runs so deeply that they can’t stop themselves from ascribing the worst thoughts and characteristics regarding people on the other side.

My Personal View

Since I know so many people who still support Obama with every bone in their body, and I still love and respect those people (in so many ways), I never (ever) think that they are stupid. I never ascribe bad motivations to their support and belief. In fact, I admire the reason for their beliefs.

They have ideals. They want to see the world be a better place, for all people. Wonderful. Me too. I’ll get back to this theme shortly.

Unfortunately, most Conservatives don’t get that benefit of the doubt from the other side, often from their friends either! We are usually considered stupid or heartless or greedy, often all three. We want to keep everyone else down, while hoarding more and more for ourselves, even if somehow, we’re otherwise good or decent people (only a minor conundrum).

There are vicious extremists on both sides, so please don’t tell me why you hate so-and-so right winger (or so-and-so left winger). I’m talking about regular folks, my friends and yours, on both sides of the political spectrum. People that we know, first hand, to be good people.

Ideals

Ideals are ultimate goals. That makes them very worthy of reaching for, but they are rarely attainable, regardless of the cost. The world is very complex, and for every action, there’s a reaction, and an infinite set of consequences. Rarely can we even anticipate the consequences, let alone manage or contain them. That’s a fact of life.

Ignoring the potential consequences for the sake of the ideal doesn’t make one a bad person, or even stupid, it just makes them unrealistic, possibly bordering on naive. That’s the worst I can say about the people that I love, that still fully support this administration, and continue to demonize those that oppose it.

Double Standard

The single biggest problem we have in our debates is the intellectual dishonesty. We all want our side to win so badly, that we’ve been trained not to give an inch in any discussion. This is most evident in watching the pundits on any news show.

Dem strategists can’t find a single flaw in anything that’s being proposed at the moment, as everything is clearly being gummed up by belligerent Reps. Of course one year ago, they couldn’t find a single good thing to say about the Bush administration.

Rep strategists would rather be waterboarded than say a positive thing about Obama. Of course, a year ago, they couldn’t admit that anything the Bush administration was doing was wrong or bad for the country either.

Phony Political Arguments

Finally, what this post is really about!

I have been biting my tongue for many months, for many reasons. I finally broke down because of the current social networking gimmick (yes folks, it’s a gimmick, whether you want to believe it or not!) that’s going around at the moment.

In the past 24 hours, at least seven of my Facebook friends (some are very dear and close friends, a couple are just acquaintances) have put the following up as their status:

thinks that no one should die because they cannot afford health care, and no one should go broke because they get sick. If you agree, please post this as your status for the rest of the day

Really? How noble of you all. What makes this a phony political argument is that it implies that anyone who doesn’t make this claim is a bad person, who wants people to die or at least go broke. In fact, those bad people want to laugh at the dead and broke people for being losers…

To repeat, I think that every one of my friends who posted this, believes it deeply, with all their heart. I applaud that. I too wish that the above statement would come true.

OK, now let’s reconnect with the real world, and spend a few minutes thinking about how we might achieve that? More importantly, let’s even spend 10 seconds asking whether the currently proposed health care bills even strive to deliver that? If they did, would Obama have had to say “perhaps you should just take a painkiller”?

I have no interest in twisting Obama’s words, nor even ascribing ill motives to them. He was being realistic, and saying that we can’t solve every problem (in this case, in the health care arena). His specific response revolved around the cost of doing so, but that’s not really the point. The point is that we can’t do it all, and solve it all (often because of cost, and often because we just can’t control the universe).

Still, doesn’t his response violate the oath that all of these Facebook statuses and Tweets are proclaiming? Has Obama sold them out? Worse, perhaps the woman in the video had the adequate health insurance. Should she have been allowed to die because she had insurance? At least it wouldn’t violate the wonderful oath that those that can’t afford insurance shouldn’t be allowed to die.

The person who thought up this status was just too darn clever. It’s nearly as clever as the oldie but goodie:

Have you stopped beating your wife?

So, when I see my friends putting it up, it makes me a bit sad. None of your friends thought you were a cruel, thoughtless person, who didn’t want others to receive adequate health care. Seriously, we know you’re a good person.

But, you felt it necessary to make the statement, to goad others, and to expose those who are evil and don’t want that, whether you were conscious or not about why you decided to join the crowd.

Were you astroturfed into doing it? No way, only Conservatives, who voice criticism at a town hall meeting are dupes and are easily manipulated (poor bastards). You chose to put this status up, all by yourself. Good for you!

Summary

We’ll all get along a lot better, and perhaps make more progress as a country, if we start discussing issues, along with the consequences of any particular solution, rather than impugning each others motives or intelligence, and refusing to admit that most politicians are not out to help all of us out.

Thought exercise for the people who put up the status message

Is it only people in the US that you put this status up for, or should no one globally die because they can’t afford health care? What would you give up to make that happen? If you gave it up, would you be able to make it happen? If everyone in the world gave up those things that you would give up, would we be able to deliver adequate health care to all who need it world-wide?

What about non-health care deaths?

Roughly 45,000 people die in an automobile accident in the US, each year! Do you ever speed? Have you ever taken a drink and then driven your car? If everyone in the US stopped driving, forever, we would reduce those deaths to zero, permanently, overnight. Would you participate in such a noble exercise? Would you put that up as your Facebook status?