Tuesday, March 23, 2010

America - Still not a Democracy

It got monotonous, boring and frankly quite annoying.

Yes, I could be talking about almost any Bills' season since my birth, but I'm actually referring to the two-plus hour debate over the Health Care Reform bill Sunday night.

Democrat after Democrat was yielded 45 seconds at a time to say that insurance companies are bad and Americans deserve health care. And Republican after Republican was yielded 45 seconds at a time to say that government is bad and “the majority of Americans” oppose government run or mandated health care.

Fact of the matter is, I agree with both sides of the great debate.

Insurance companies are horrible. It's the only industry where you pay a certain amount of money to have access to something … and then more if you actually use it. If they even let you use it. I am among the vast majority of Americans who have had a basic insurance claim turned down simply because the insurance didn't feel like paying it.

Americans do deserve health care. The rest of the civilized world has figured out how to make health care universally available to everyone. If we truly have the right to “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness,” one could easily imply that we have the right to be healthy.

The Republicans are correct, however, about government. It's a monstrosity. It could screw up a one-float parade. And all the red tape could easily make that parade cost millions of dollars. I don't trust government to do much. Of course, if you're familiar with me at all, I'm not telling you anything you don't know.

And yes, the polls seemed to indicate that the majority of Americans had serious reservations about the concept of universal health care or “Obamacare” as the rightwing seems to like to call it.

In truth, I haven't read the health care bill. Of course, I'd bet the majority of congress hasn't actually read it either. And I don't know whether it's good or bad. I'm not here to preach the values and pitfalls of universal health care.

No, my main frustration today is with the Republican talking point about “the majority of Americans” opposing it.

I've said this before and I'll say it again: We are not a democracy. Never have been. Never will. Congress has enacted thousands upon thousands of pieces of legislation that the majority of Americans opposed. And the reason for them voting lockstep in opposition to our will is almost always the same: It's for our own good.

Frankly, if the majority of Americans knew what was good for them, we wouldn't keep sending the same yahoos to Washington year after year. We wouldn't need those yahoos to create laws mandating seat belt use … or speed limits … or drug laws … or any number of laws that have been enacted for the purposes of protecting us.

And if the majority of Americans actually cared enough, we wouldn't need those yahoos at all. We would just all vote on everything. That, of course, would make us a democracy. Not a republic.

I found it quite ironic listening to members of the Republican party (the world “republic” is right in their name) speak nearly unanimously about what the American people wanted, essentially extolling the virtues of democracy.

I won't go into why democracy is a bad thing. I did that in length in my December 8th column. And I'd prefer not to be monotonous. Or boring. Or quite annoying. For fear that someone will make me run for congress.