For the past two days, I have read, watched and done my own research about the Supreme Court’s ruling on Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare to many on both sides of the political aisle.
The bottom line – I’m even more convinced than ever our first President George Washington had it correct when he warned about the dangers of political parties.
In his farewell address to Congress, Washington said:
“One of the expedients of party to acquire influence, within particular districts, is to misrepresent the opinions and aims of other districts. You cannot shield yourselves too much against the jealousies and heart-burnings, which spring from these misrepresentations; they tend to render alien to each other those, who ought to be bound together by fraternal affection.
“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.
“… The common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.
“It serves always to distract the Public Councils, and enfeeble the Public Administration. It agitates the Community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one part against another … “
Such wisdom is in these words, and the re-actions of both the Republicans and Democrats over the Supreme Court’s rulings illustrate his points to a “T.”
Both sides have started with the distortions of fact about what the legislation will and will not do.
For a solid breakdown of some of the more egregious distortions, check out USA Today’s Fact Check article at http://usat.ly/KIxCIy.
But what really galls me is the flip-flopping of candidates. I realize that compromise is the name of the game in Washington in order to accomplish things, but must one really forget their principles? Is it necessary to take a stand on an issue while running for office, only to turn around and deny it once you’re in office? Or because the other party does the same thing you did when you were office, must you now take a stance against it?
Here are two examples of what infuriates me.
· As a presidential candidate, President Obama was against the idea of requiring Americans to purchase health insurance. In the Jan. 21, 2008, presidential primary debate in South Carolina, then candidate Obama said: “A mandate means that in some fashion, everybody will be forced to buy health insurance.” Instead of going that route, his plan, he said, “emphasizes lowering costs.” One of Obama’s campaign ads against Hilary Clinton’s health care plan stated: “It forces everyone to buy insurance, even if you can’t afford it, and you pay a penalty if you don’t.”
· When he passed a similar plan while governor of Massachusetts, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney said in a 2008 Republican presidential debate the following: “… I like mandates. The mandates work.” And here are his words from an opinion piece Romney wrote in USA Today in 2009 about the Massachusetts’ plan: “[W]e established incentives for those who were uninsured to buy insurance. Using tax penalties, as we did, or tax credits, as others have proposed, encourages ‘free riders’ to take responsibility for themselves rather than pass their medical costs on to others.”
If I had the opportunity to speak to either candidate, I would ask them both a very simple question: “Do you really think the people of this country are so stupid we can’t see what you both are doing?”
What we need in Washington are not politicians, but public servants, people with common sense, who understand the meaning of honesty and who are not afraid to speak truth to power. Individuals who will not tell the people what they want to hear in order to be elected and who will not abandon their principles once they are elected.
Unfortunately, though, the Supreme Court took care of that ever happening, when they ruled that political action committees and Super PACs could buy the next office holders.
But that’s another column for another day.