The New Thuggery in the Health Care Debate

Written by Robert Justin Lipkin on August 13th, 2009

Word has it that orchestrated groups of Americans fill Town halls not to discuss, not even passionately to discuss, the Obama health care bill, but to prevent discussing it. Is it wrong to oppose health care in a democratic society? Obviously not! Is it wrong to oppose discussing health care reform? No! But it is wrong to engage in conduct that prevents others from civilly discussing such reform.  Opposition to civil discussion in a democratic society is anti-democratic pure and simple.  Who is to blame? The culprits are those who are orchestrating the specific goal of engaging in obstructionist tactics that prevents these town hall meetings from being an exchange of views on health care and those who feed them distortions and lies about the health care bills. Who are these undemocratic folks? I don’t know for sure, but whoever stands aside and fails to condemn such barbarism are equally as undemocratic as those who engage in the orchestration in the first place.

Two culprits can be identified: Newt Gingrich and Charles Grassley. While acknowledging that none of the five congressional btmpphpUhE7OF[1]ills contains an end of life “death panel” requirement, former speaker Newt Gingrich warned that “[c]ommunal standards historically is [sic] a very dangerous concept.” Presumably, he means that though the death panel language is not in the bill, its application through communal standards could in the future construct such a provision.  After all, “You are asking us to trust turning power over to the government, when there are clearly people in American who believe in establishing euthanasia, including selective standards.” Well, I suppose so, but something similar is true of every single provision in every law ever passed in the United States. Those same people can introduce euthanasia into our present Medicare system.  To reject legislation because it must be applied through communal standards is simply to reject democracy outright.  If the community makes such an egregious mistake, then we’ll all band together legislatively to fix it by explicitly rejecting such applications. If we cannot do so because the majority embraces such communal standards, then we’re stuck just as we are in every case where the majority has abuse a piece of legislation. Fear of abuse cannot be reason for endorsing what otherwise is a perfectly respectable piece of legislation without abandoning democracy entirely.  And even in this case, our job as democrats, small “d,” is through politics to become a new majority and eliminate the heinous provision. Gingrich should know better.  Either he does, but is duplicitous, or he doesn’t and needs to rethink his quite unsupportable position. Chuck Grassley’s misconduct is much simpler. He simply lied about whether such a provision is in the bill, and should apologize to his constituents for doing so. Indeed, The Senate should censure Senator Grassley and my favorite president should retract the favorable remarks he made earlier this week about this duplicitous “deather.”


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