"So what do you think about the election?"
"So What do you think about Obamacare?"
"What do you think about this healthcare situation?"
I get these questions throughout my day. My patients are mostly suburban and white, so their view is overall on the conservative side. Yet I have found that few see the results of the election as a hopeful sign for healthcare. I don't either.
Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows that I am a "flaming moderate" when it comes to politics. I don't have much faith in anyone who identifies too strongly with one party of the other. I am really angry with congress and their lack of gonads to work on really coming up with solutions. Interestingly, my patients, regardless of their political leaning, agree with much of what I say. Here are the things they all seem to agree with:
1. Congressional politics is hurting us - Members of congress (both sides are equally guilty) are more focused on what is good for their party than what is good for those who they represent. If a democrat is elected to this district, I expect him/her to represent all of the people in that district, not just the democrats (the same is obviously true for republicans). This doesn't mean they must lose all of their ideology, but ideology should be a means, not an end. The reason to hold an ideology is to come to solutions to problems with that ideology as a vehicle. The goal is to help the people you represent through your ideology, not bang them over the head with it.
2. There are many villains in this story - I like to rail against congress (it's a hobby), but the president is to blame, as are past presidents who allowed the situation to get this bad. Obama inherited a bad situation, he didn't create it. Many of the bad things happening were set in motion during the Bush administration (or earlier). Now, Obama's leadership style of letting congress shape healthcare reform has created lots of problems. Then there is the system that lets money influence policy (which has been evolving over a long period of time). Lobbyists for those with money leverage the compulsion of politicians to be re-elected and get what they want by well-placed "contributions."
3. We can't afford to wait - The past two years has proven that even with a very large majority, a party can't get things done without cooperating with the other party. In two years we may get a different president, but is there anyone out there that thinks our government will work any better? If the republicans gain power, the democrats will unite and block anything they try to accomplish. Simply putting a different captain at the helm of a sinking ship won't change the final outcome. Healthcare is a mess, and that mess is getting worse, not better. Gridlock is unacceptable.
4. Our situation is scary - Our government doesn't work any more. The system we have thrives on debate, influence peddling, and party politics. It has survived over 200 years that way. The thing that scares me and most of my patients is the lack of any willingness to work together. If they were in a room with one exit, the democrats and republicans wouldn't agree on how to get out of it. Politics of party is so acute, inflamed by the ideologues on one side vilifying the ideologues on the other, that it seems impossible to get anything significant done. One commenter on my last post suggested that we are seeing the death-throes of our government. If our way of solving problems is screaming and pointing fingers, I begin to agree with that.
What to do about all of this? Do we form a third party? (I would suggest llamacrat as the name of the party). Do we write congresspersons? Do we get pitchforks and torches and march on Washington DC? Do we whine a lot in blog posts, hoping someone else will do stuff?
I don't really know. I do think that congress should be scared, not empowered. The people voted for change in the past 3 elections, which means there is overall dissatisfaction with all involved. Another 2 years of do-nothingness will prove only that our country is in danger. The mandate of this election is a "mad as hell" mandate.
I beg with any politician crazy enough to read what I write: please don't put re-election or party politics ahead of the people you represent. The election was not a game with winners and losers, it was a statement by the American public that you guys are screwing things up. Govern us. Lead us. Take care of us. Fix our problems.
If you don't, the llamacrats will be breathing down your necks.