Calming the Political Rhetoric on Health Care

I am striving for total honesty in this article (Micah 6:1), although I remain unconvinced that such a noble desire is even within the grasp of fallen humanity. In terms of faith and philosophy, I am a conservative Evangelical Christian to whom eternal life has been imputed, by faith alone, through grace alone, based solely upon the work of Christ on the cross. In terms of politics, I lean far to the right on almost every issue, usually voting for Republican or Libertarian candidates, and I believe that President Reagan was, by far, the greatest president in U.S. history. However, I would like to attempt the lost art of self-criticism in order to illustrate the futility of the endless cycle of political rhetoric, by using the Obama administration’s health care plan as an example.

Opposition to the health care reform bills currently being considered by Congress has been explosive from Republicans, conservative talk show hosts, evangelical leaders, and so-called patient advocates. I have heard this legislation referenced as “creeping euthanasia” and “a vicious assault on the elderly,” and some have even tried to make it analogous to the practices of Nazi Germany during the Holocaust. The political rhetoric of such inflammatory accusations is certainly not limited to either of the two major political parties. Both sides seem to find it much easier to approach the exercise of debate with cynicism and the most ugly and vivid portrayals of their political opponents and their policies, rather than to defend their own party’s leaders and their policies. Perhaps this is because we prefer the competitive atmosphere of the political arena over the challenge of solving our problems. I suppose that it does take much less time and thought to launch cleverly-phrased verbal missiles at our opponents than to conceive the best resolutions through research and development.

If our objective is to be argumentative and to find flaws in our opponents’ policies, then our job is easy. A couple of examples are in order:

Should the government be able to dictate that all coverage is identical, and that nobody can get more or better health care by paying for it themselves? In other words, what about the patient who is using using his own money to pay for his healthcare, instead of Medicare or health insurance (truly rationing of health care)? No matter which way this is decided, we could complain about it, as follows:

– If we say that no health care will be restricted for those who can afford to pay for it themselves, then we would complain about the fairness of this decision, since rich people can have certain health care that is denied to poorer people.

– If we say that certain healthcare can be restricted even for those paying for it themselves, then we would complain that this is not consistent with free enterprise.

Another tactic has been to play on the fears of baby boomers by reminding them that it’s their parents who are being abused here. However, if we truly respect the sanctity of life, why are my parents more important than somebody else’s parents. They’re more important to me, of course, because of my selfishness for myself, not for my parents. Just as God shows no favoritism (Romans 2:11), neither should we. If we are unable to argue our point without trying to induce personal guilt, then we should probably reexamine our policies.