- Posted August 18, 2013 by
Porter Ranch, California
This iReport is part of an assignment:
26 Pennies for Your Thoughts
In his Farewell Address to the country George Washington warned us against the dangers of political parties. He said that “the alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism.”(1) This followed a theme of his addresses that centered on his concern that his countrymen would become more loyal to people with whom they aligned themselves rather than to the country as a whole.
In most cases, I tend to distance myself from those literalists who fail to see the Constitution as a flexible and changing document. Our Founding Fathers were wise men, but their failure to include the slaves as full men who were created equal shows that they were not infallible. They were also not fortune tellers and I am sure that the wonders, and challenges, of our modern world were beyond their wildest imaginations. In the case of political parties, Washington’s predictions were realized.
It is not our government that is deadlocked, it is we who have separated ourselves into red and blue states where presidential election results are almost a foregone conclusion. For 41 of the states in the last election, the only reason any candidate had to visit after the primaries were over was to pick up checks for their war chest. Too many of us get our “news” exclusively from ideologically pure sources like FOX and MSNBC. Our political leanings predict if we are more likely to shop at Walmart or Target.
When looking at ideologies from the county level, the divide becomes even more clear. If electoral votes were awarded by geographic area, the Republicans would have a lock on the White House. Instead, with the support of the densely populated urban areas, Democrats have won the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections. If current demographic trends continue, the biggest electoral prize in Red America, Texas, is in danger of turning blue.
In the last two election cycles, the Republican’s primary system has proven to be their biggest obstacle in winning the general election. In both cases moderate candidates successfully made the case that only a moderate could win the general election but at the same time swung themselves so far to the right to placate their conservative base that they were unable to find their way back to the middle. This is how a former maverick became the Senate’s curmudgeon and the namesake of Romneycare ended up rejecting his own program on the federal level.
The Conservative litmus test has yielded even worse results in the Senate where sitting Senators who dared to compromise with the Democrats were primaried. In these contests, ideologically pure candidates won but were rejected by enough general election voters to twice cost the Republicans control of the Senate. Without a majority, they enforce gridlock through the unprecedented use of the filibuster.
The Democrats also won more votes for seats in the House, but gerrymandered districts ensure that most incumbents keep their seats and the House in Republican hands. Any attempt by John Boehner to work with the President is met by the threat of a TEA Party rebellion to end his Speakership. Instead of working with the President on issues that affect our country, the House has taken 40 votes to repeal Obamacare. As our first President feared, our legislatures now put party before country.
While Republicans play politics with the issue, Americans need for healthcare reform to work. For the decade ending in August 2010, the cost of healthcare rose 48%, slightly less than double the rise of the overall Consumer Price Index.(2) In 2007, 62% of bankruptcies were due to medical bills, nearly a 50% increase from 2001’s rate.(3) By 2016 it is estimated that 28% of the federal budget will be spent on health care.(4) These statistics do not even begin to tell the story of system stacked against the consumer.
Sergio Branco is not what Conservatives would label a “Taker.” He supported his family with a job at a waste management company that also included health insurance. This security ended when he was diagnosed with leukemia, used up his allotted leave time under the Family and Medical Leave Act while undergoing chemotherapy and was subsequently fired by his employer.(5) To make matters worse, he lost his COBRA coverage when his wife accidentally underpaid the bill by 26 cents, putting a scheduled bone marrow transplant at risk. Only after the family hired a lawyer, the local press exposed the story and the Department of Labor intervened was the coverage reinstated and the potentially life saving operation was put back on schedule.
Any program as big as Obamacare will not be perfect on first draft and the ability to tweak the legislation would be in the best interests of the American people. Instead the TEA party of the wing of the Republican party is threatening to shut down the entire government in an effort to defund the program. If the rest of the party wants to stem their losing streak of Presidential elections, they may want to side with the American people.