It is high time for the United States of America to act on the inclusive directives of our Constitution rather than the exclusive policies of our partisan lawmakers. An ideological overhaul must precede any major policy alteration. Therein lies the rub.
Once again, Frank Rich of the New York Times brings home the bacon. His piece today is magnificent, saying perfectly what I have tried to say in drips and drabs. The danger of Sarah Palin and her ilk is very simply, that she might one day actually become our President.
How can this possibly come about? Sarah Palin’s popularity derives from and feeds on the anger, the ethos of the American people. Their cultural character goes deep and especially in hard economic times, will rear its ugly head in a backlash against perceived sinister forces, such as minorities, immigrants, the educated and a status quo that has shown some progressive growth . Rich uses the words “resentment and victimization” to describe this head-in-the-hole attribute of Palin and what remains of the GOP. Here is my favorite part:
That’s why Palin won’t go gently into the good night, much as some Republicans in Washington might wish. She is not just the party’s biggest star and most charismatic television performer; she is its only star and charismatic performer. Most important, she stands for a genuine movement: a dwindling white nonurban America that is aflame with grievances and awash in self-pity as the country hurtles into the 21st century and leaves it behind. Palin gives this movement a major party brand and political plausibility that its open-throated media auxiliary, exemplified by Glenn Beck, cannot. She loves the spotlight, can raise millions of dollars and has no discernible reason to go fishing now except for self-promotional photo ops.
The essence of Palinism is emotional, not ideological. Yes, she is of the religious right, even if she winks literally and figuratively at her own daughter’s flagrant disregard of abstinence and marriage. But family-values politics, now more devalued than the dollar by the philandering of ostentatiously Christian Republican politicians, can only take her so far. The real wave she’s riding is a loud, resonant surge of resentment and victimization that’s larger than issues like abortion and gay civil rights.
During the last week, I have done some serious thinking about the state of our economy, where we are coming from and where we are headed. The Palin furor, wrapped up in its ignorance and repudiation of anything substantive and instead playing on the deep-seated fears of the American people, has only served to crystallize my thoughts. My premise is that there are two issues that have historically dragged us down: foreign energy dependence and health care reform. We are trying to repair those problems with an insufficient band-aid when a total re-design is needed.
President Obama knows these two problem areas are of the utmost importance and the bane of our very existence. However, along with the full plate he was handed on January 20th, 2009, these specific realignments take time. I dearly hope that he realizes his words and theories will work if and only if he has the guts to truly re-vamp these problem areas, to “go deep” and actually alter attitudes, and not succumb to compromise, which will act like just a band- aid again.
First, we must minimize our dependence on foreign oil as totally as possible. In a very unscientific manner, sort of like a mental monitoring, I have tracked the price of a barrel of oil and watched a definite correlation with economic weakness, individual, corporate and institutional financial hardship, and a significant decline in public confidence. America must waste no more time in developing as much of an alternative energy program as possible. Natural gas, solar, wind and even nuclear energy are there for the taking, if we so decide to actually spend the money. These sources of power are within the borders of our own country. In order to fully develop these possibilities though, we need to embrace a new mind set. That is the difficult part. Imported oil is poison for us. Further, the jobs potentially created in establishing these alternative forms of energy would also provide new life for our nation. Thus, we have a double, positive whammy that could inject new life in to our faltering, outmoded, wasteful downward spiral.
The second issue that likewise needs to be totally redesigned is our health care “system.” As it stands now, the waste and corruption fueled by our patch, patch, patch strategy is a disaster in the waiting. Over 50 million Americans have no health insurance at all, and of those that do, many are teetering on the brink of being able to afford such coverage (i.e. health care should not be a contest between spending one’s money on insurance, medications, or food on the table). How many more medical insurance company executives are going to have to go public about the greed, corruption, and illegal refusals to honor their policies before we realize that what we have is just a facade of benefits for a wisp of a population?
Our current health care quagmire is very complicated and each new option carries with it a domino effect. The answer is simply not just reducing doctors’ and hospitals’ fees; that by itself would serve only to create an exodus of qualified professionals and much needed points of service. Rather, health care professionals and patients need to be re-educated about the benefits/costs relationship. “If you build it, they will come” might be a good description of a ball field, but certainly not of a health care system. Just because we have the existence of, for example, MRI’s, does not mean that physicians must prescribe such tests across the board. Of course, their intention is to avoid any liability punishment. It is defensive medicine. So the domino continues to roll: until we have reform in the area of medical liability, we can not realistically expect the caregivers to become more prudent in their requests for more, often unnecessary, testing. Thus, the waste inherent in our current program will continue to grow. And so on and so forth.
This piecemeal approach to health care will not be changed by the current proposals in front of Congress. Nothing less than a major overhaul will suffice to provide all Americans with decent health care. Universal, mandatory, single payer health care is really what is called for. Yet, I would settle for a “babying-in” of such policies at this point, in which case we must offer a public option. Americans must be realistic as well; it would be foolish to expect the Cadillac of health care coverage on a minuscule budget. That is just not going to happen because it would seal the fate of financially burdened businesses and government. If people want fantastic benefits, they will have to pay fantastic premiums. If they so desire overall coverage for for the cheapest cost, they are going to have to realize that restrictions and yes, even rationing, will be the the order of the day. We are at a crossroads now, and while it is imperative to adequately and fairly cover all citizens, that notion must be tempered with the reality of overuse, abuse, expectations and entitlement. Once again, a mind set change is called for.
Yes, under President Obama’s leadership, we have avoided total financial collapse. Is this the best we can hope for? Or can we also better our future outlook? Optimistically, we are on a corrective path. However, these major changes take a lot of time. Paul Krugman has been hollering for quite a while now that the stimulus will not be enough to recoup our sure economic footing. We need more. Granted: only 10% of the $700 billion designated as stimulus funds has been spent. Of course, capital projects such as road building and major infrastructure improvements take a considerable chunk of time to implement. So is the rehabilitation and renovation of our economy stymied by the typical American trait of a lack of patience, or a lack of new, viable policies? Will we settle once again for the band-aid approach or have the courage of our convictions to alter our attitude and thereby update our American world?
If we truly want to alter our past policies, we need to admit and then restructure our energy policy and health care coverage and delivery system. The first step would be to acknowledge the ethical and moral void that permeates our system of government and private enterprise. Democracy is a funny thing: while providing for freedom and justice, it also allows for capitalistic corruption. There exists a fine line between total economic freedom and abuse. President Obama is on the right track, but a new mind set regarding our needs and wants versus their cost must be squarely faced. Whether our present economic lethargy is due to just a factor of time or real, long-term faults in the system is moot. We must initiate corrective policies with the underlying emphasis being on a more equitable system of values.
This is the point where Sarah Palin and the GOP fall flat on their faces. They have no regard for all the people. Instead, they think every American should be on their own and not at all reliant on any government assistance. Those that can afford necessities will receive them and those that can not, will not. Less government, more for the top 5% of the population. Instilling fear and prejudice against the have nots is one way to ensure the continuation of this dominance.
As my husband wisely warned our children upon Barack Obama’s election, “You must continue to be vigilant lest we have another Bush.” The fight goes on, for Sarah Palin could well be our next Bush. There will always be another scoundrel waiting in the wings, draped in self-righteous, hypocritical, blind faithfulness expected from the general population but not from himself. We need President Obama to do more than just lay the groundwork, both ideological and actual, for drastic policy change; he must get the job done. There is little distinction between capitalism’s well-intended aims and its discriminatory, selfish, often destructive ends. The same holds true for democracy. That is why we must pursue significant, meaningful and long-term policy changes at this time. Our constitutional ideals and timbre of our society can be protected only if our policy implementations take precedence over our leaders’ selfish ambitions our own personal agendas.
So my loyal readers, consider me vigilant. I will continue the fight for what is good, right and just for the sake of my children and future generations. If I do not pursue these lofty aims, I might as well just up and join the GOP. And the American people will maybe get what they deserve: President Sarah Palin.