WITH THE U.S. SUPREME COURT set to hand down a decision on the Affordable Health Care Act this week and Republicans getting ready to “spike the football” and dance on the broken dreams of the chronically ill if the law is struck down, someone needs to ask. Where is modern conservative theory leading our great nation today?
Do conservative thinkers really believe the Affordable Health Care Act was intended to make it easy to unplug granny? Is the biggest threat to our freedom really a nefarious plot to make citizens buy and eat broccoli? That’s the basis of the right’s argument against the individual mandate: the idea that we don’t dare let government tell us what to do, like have health care coverage, just because it might be good for us. Is it really “tyranny,” in even the most extreme, exotic interpretation of the word, to pass a law that makes it possible for individuals with pre-existing conditions to get health insurance?
Usually, when you think tyranny you think mass murder and gas chambers. Not exactly the same as unleashing doctors and nurses on people who can’t otherwise afford to see doctors and nurses.
Tyranny and “Obamacare” are nothing alike.
If you’re a thinking person, you find yourself wishing you could stop Mitt Romney in the middle of whatever platitude he’s uttering and ask, “Do you really believe liberals have some plan to take away freedom by extending coverage to protect a young, married, white, heterosexual, working-class couple, so that when the husband turns out to have lung cancer at 34, he can get proper care?
Do you, Mitt?
THE WHITE, WORKING-CLASS, MARRIED, MALE is the demographic backbone of the Republican Party. But a poll last April showed half of all Americans believe the next generation is going to have it worse than preceding generations, and only a quarter feel the young will have it better. And no group has a grimmer future, generally, than those white, working-class men. So, you wonder, what do Mitt Romney and the GOP have to offer their most dependable supporters?
Well, sure, Mr. Blue-Collar White Guy, you can keep all the guns you want, even own a few semi-automatic weapons if you want. And we, your conservative champions, promise to erect a giant wall to keep those dark-skinned illegals out–you know, to save your jobs, because we care about you. Of course, we’ll be happy, after you vote to keep us in power, to turn around and ship your job to Mexico, anyway, and tell you, “This is how free markets work.”
Look at the situation from any angle and it’s hard to understand where Republicans stand when it comes to wages and benefits for real American workers. We know they hate unions. Unions are jam-packed with thugs. Watch Fox News and they’ll tell you that. Unions want to take your dues, Mr. Blue-Collar, and spend them on socialist political causes. You, Mr. Blue-Collar, don’t have to stand for that! Unions want to destroy free enterprise. They want to help elect a bunch of commies, who just might happen to stand up for better wages and benefits for workers like you.
Yep: Unions are anti-American.
Don’t worry. The key is “free” in free enterprise. The GOP will save you. The GOP will block health care reform, just as they did in the 1990s, so that you remain free to go without coverage. They will place non-activist judges on the U. S. Supreme Court, so that the perfect work of the Founding Fathers can never be destroyed.
Giant corporations will be classified as “people” under new rulings by these non-activist judges.
Don’t you feel better now, Mr. Blue-Collar, because you have connections in high places. Feel free to call your personal friend, the giant corporation, “David,” or “Sheldon,” or “Hal.” “David” will donate $10 million dollars to conservative Wisconsin politicians who want to keep taxes low (yours, of course, but much more importantly, those of billionaires) and take bargaining rights away from teachers, social workers and prison guards. “Sheldon” will donate to politicians with the same agenda in Ohio in an attempt to deny bargaining power to police and firefighters.
“David” and “Sheldon” are doing this all for you, Mr. Blue-Collar White Guy.
“Hal,” is a giant computer corporation/slash person/slash personal friend of yours. Ask “Hal” to explain how knocking teachers out of the middle class helps you. Ask your corporate friend how trends since 1979 have helped you. That year, when Ronald Reagan was gearing up for his first successful run at the White House, and soon to make it clear that he would not oppose any attacks on unions, the average entry-level wage for male high school graduates in this country was $15.64, adjusted for inflation. By 2011, Mr. Blue-Collar, people like you, or maybe your son, Blue-Collar Jr., were starting out at $11.68 per hour. That’s right: good working-class Americans. People who want to work. Who want to work and get ahead and play by the rules. Not all those “sneaky” illegals Fox is always scaring you about. Not a bunch of “lazy” welfare cheats, which the GOP wants you to believe are standing by just so they can pick your pockets.
In 1979, 63.3 percent of these people had health care through their places of employment. Today only 22.8 percent of entry-level workers are as fortunate.
IT’S PAST TIME TO ASK. In a land where top CEOs wrack up $100 million in salary for a single year, do conservatives think we’re better off as a society if we keep taxes at or near all-time lows, so that the poor CEO doesn’t see his total tax bill rise to $27 million, from $24 million, and we let that uninsured 34-year-old, working class fellow just die?
Isn’t $73 million enough to keep any CEO happy for a year?
The question is, Mr. Romney, or Mr. Paul Ryan, or any of you other leading lights of the conservative movement, how much do you want to see the scale tip in one direction? Will you be satisified when the last union is dead and the last hard-working blue-collar American sees his health care coverage disappear forever? Will you be content when the average entry-level wage falls farther, say, to $9.91, or will you only be happy when the rest of us work for minimum wage?
You see a story about the sale of Babe Ruth’s 1920 Yankees jersey for $4.4 million two weeks ago. And you wonder: Is a jersey really worth that much in our society; and that policeman who ran up the steps on 9/11, was he really asking too much in pension benefits? Are union cops and union teachers and union bricklayers the biggest threat to our economic health? If corporations can donate tens of millions to politicians who promise to keep taxes low, how come those corporations couldn’t pay a little more in taxes to make it easier for Blue-Collar Jr. to get loans to go to college? If you have one individual who can afford to purchase a Mike Rothko abstract painting called, “Orange, Red, Yellow,” for $86.9 million, and one individual has that kind of money because he pays hundreds of his non-union workers the lowest possible wages, is that really the way you want the system to operate?
Is the American Dream dead for most of us, Mr. Romney, and do you care?
WHERE DO PLAN TO LEAD THIS NATION IF ELECTED PRESIDENT? What would you say in an effort to offer hope to a homeless American child, whose family lives in a van in some church parking lot? Dad injured his back, lost his construction job in the economic downturn starting in 2008, and has no health insurance. Mom works, alright, but makes only $12.53 per hour and the doctor bills are still piling up. Do you say, “Vote for me. I protected you from the individual mandate, from government-controlled health care, from the tyranny of eating brocoli, saved you from union thugs, made sure your wages would remain historically low, made sure people like your mom and dad had a much harder time ever getting ahead?”
Can you really say, “I’m your man, Mr. Blue-Collar, because I signed a pledge to insure that taxes will never be raised, no matter how lopsided the economic picture becomes?
Is that the core of conservative thinking today?