A friend of mine had a dog that was obsessively aggressive about a particular toy bone. Whenever the dog saw this bone he would become hyperactive, growling, barking and assuming an attack posture. When this bone was thrown, the dog would lose all composure, ignore any command, and instantly launch into a full-speed pursuit of the bone, tearing at it and shaking it violently in his mouth when he got it. My friend called this toy the Bad Bone.
Ever since Barack Obama was elected president the Republicans have behaved like my friend’s dog. Just mention the name, “Obama”, and watch Republicans began to growl and bark uncontrollably as they assume the attack position. Tossing out the Obama Bone has given me hours of cheap entertainment.
With the passage of health-care reform any remaining decorum, rationality and discipline the Republicans and their street affiliates had has evaporated. These people have gone politically rabid in their opposition to Obama and health-care reform legislation. All the scary ranting propaganda alleging death panels, rationing of medical care, seniors abandoned on melting Medicare ice flows, and an Obama ulterior motive of implementing Soviet-style-socialism across America is reminiscent of the tactics the Republican leadership used so effectively in scaring America into the Iraq War and the Patriot Act.
Republicans and their street soldiers yowl that health-care reform is Obama’s opening salvo of shock-and-awe socialism and a great grievous wound to constitutional freedom. They warn that America will collapse under the weight of massive federal debt resulting from health-care reform legislation. Their bark is sharper than their objectivity.
Before the health-care bill even passed, the federal debt was already nearly $13 trillion. Where were these protesting patriots when the administration of President George W. Bush squandered away budget surpluses and plunged the nation into crippling deficits to pursue needless wars? Where were they when the deceptively titled Patriot Act, which tramples on our constitutional rights, was proposed and passed? Where were they when the federal government took away the personal freedom of victimless choice and declared war on drugs?
The cost of the Iraq, Afghanistan and drug wars alone would cover the entire cost of health-care reform. Is it the debt these patriots are protesting or is it the reason for the debt? Is it patriotic to impose constitutionally questionable, over-reaching, federal power to protect Americans from terrorists, but unpatriotic to protect Americans from exploitation by private-sector enterprises that in effect ration health care to maximize profits?
All these poseur patriots raging against the health-care reform law, breaking windows and threatening retribution at the polls are coming a bit late to the tea party. If these weekend patriots want to save the republic they should stop tearing after the Obama Bone and get up on their hind legs and go after the federal income tax. There is no single greater overreach of federal authority than the invasive, manipulative, IRS code with its 40,000 pages of esoteric regulations, confusing formulae, proscriptions and prescriptions that intrude into Americans’ most personal decisions and dictate how they will live their lives.
Socialism is already well rooted in America. Its other name is the common welfare. The protesters are beneficiaries of it. How many of them are willing to give up their Social Security benefits, Medicare, federal highways, national parks, air-traffic controllers, common weights and measures, communicable disease controls and national defense?
There is much as a nation that we have agreed is better handled by the public sector than by the selfish narrow interests of the private sector. Between these two it is always a matter of balance that requires adjustments to changing conditions. Life is not static. The realities of private-sector abuse in handling health care have jeopardized the common welfare. And, just as President Theodore Roosevelt led the nation to address the abuses of capitalism that had perverted free markets into competition-stifling monopolies disregarding the health and safety of workers and the public, Obama is rebalancing the interests of the private sector with those of the common welfare.
It is a predictable cycle. Last century, the oil and telecommunication industries became so monolithic and powerful that they threatened free-market competition. The federal government broke them up. But, now once again both industries are reconsolidating into a handful of mega-corporations — as is the health insurance industry.
The real danger to the republic is not the exaggerated threat of socialism that our sign-carrying patriots are howling about, it is something more akin to what President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned us about 50 years ago — the purchase of our government by big-money interests that will use it to enrich themselves at the expense of the nation.
If the Republicans were truly interested in the general welfare of the nation, they would have honestly participated in crafting health-care reform rather than chasing after the Obama bone.
— Santa Barbara political observer Randy Alcorn can be contacted at email@example.com.