Massachusetts: The Victory of Anger Over Intelligence

Posted January 20, 2010 on 10:03 pm | In the category Healthcare, Obama, Republican Party, U.S. Domestic Policy | by Jeff

“The Mass. election was a bummer …The greatest concern I have is for the economy and social stability. Deep down my attitude          towards health reform, the environment, energy is ‘not my problem’.  I have health insurance, live in the country and won’t live long enough to run out of home heating oil or gasoline. I support those issues more out of social responsibility; if society doesn’t care, why should I? “– Anonymous

In the wake of Scott Brown’s Senate win n Massachusetts, there are many scapegoats: the Democratic candidate, Martha Coakley, was a weak campaigner who thought it was a lock and behaved accordingly; the national Democratic party which totally missed the influx of outside money from insurance companies and Dick Armey’s tea party idiots; and the press that rarely looked at the substance of the issues, choosing instead to focus on the process of the campaign. But in many ways President Obama has the largest responsibility for the loss and the most to learn from it.

It begins with recognition that the people are pissed off – and with reason. That they are apparently incapable of or too lazy to truly understand the issues and to recognize what the Republicans have done to destroy America’s future in order to destroy Obama is irrelevant.  Obama is the President and he can choose to fight it out or to continue to pretend that bipartisanship is desirable and possible.

Obama’s cool, rational, smart approach is ill suited for the times – his idealistic search for bipartisanship looks in hindsight like innocence – even naiveté. There is substantial evidence that people do not think, do not read, do not discuss. They listen to Rush Limbaugh, watch Glenn Beck, take orders from their preachers or priests, and refuse to take responsibility for the nature of their lives. Scott Brown won because he is a handsome hunk who drives a truck and throws raw meat off the back end at all the poor souls looking for success in all the wrong places.

The low level of discourse in this country on issues like healthcare reform is appalling; always discussed without the long view. Between 17 and 22% of all healthcare expenses go to insurance companies who provide no healthcare –  they only serve as gatekeepers to deny insurance to those who most need it. The U.S. pays double for prescription drugs what other countries pay for the same drugs. The per capita cost for healthcare in the U.S. is double that of every other Western democracy. While one might believe that therefore we have the best medical care in the world, virtually all measures indicate that is simply not so. There is a reason the stocks of health insurance companies went up substantially yesterday; their investment in the Brown campaign was paying off and investors knew it. There is a huge reckoning coming on healthcare and the American people are in for bad surprises unless costs are contained and there is no evidence that the issue will be addressed in my lifetime. As for the current bill – Obama tried too hard and too long to get Republican support for a plan and gave up too much to get a semblance of bipartisanship.

There is a strange sense among Americans that if the people vote for something or someone they must be right. This has been wrong as often as right – people sometimes make good judgments and sometimes bad. Since we are all grownups and different people we are allowed to disagree. What is neither useful nor smart is the kind of grandstanding done by people celebrating the victory of an empty suit by dumping on those who disagree with them. Tea Party mythology has it that liberals are smug elitists; they are proving that smugness is a more common  ailment.

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