As the vote to deprive millions access to health care reached its apex, a group of congressional Democrats began taunting their Republican colleagues by chanting “hey, hey, good-bye,” meaning “See you in November 2018.”
“Frankly,” sniffed Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) in response, “I thought that was beneath the dignity of the House to be singing a song with a political message. This isn’t about politics. This is about the American people having health care coverage. It’s about making sure prices come down. And to try to make it a political joke on the floor is frankly beneath the dignity of the House of Representatives.”
This after MacArthur and 216 other Republicans voted to condemn 24 million to an uncertain fate, possible brutal existence, and potential death, while exempting themselves of course. Under Trumpcare, Big Health could deny millions to healthcare due to pre-existing conditions often-times God-given.
So, how does one say chutzpah in Republicanese? Or hypocrisy? Perhaps, while eating a bologna sandwich on white.
The Republicans’ votes were not “about the American people having health care coverage,” as MacArthur insisted, but for something sinister: Increasing bottom-line profiteering off the misfortunes of helpless Americans.
In the end, the very divided vote ramrodded by the Republican leadership to prove they can govern, so it’s said, might prove to be nothing more than symbolic assuming Party adults in the Senate rise to the occasion. But don’t bet the farm on it.
The vote, symbolic as it might be, strikes at the very core of who we are that two recent airline incidences speak to.
First was the older Asian-American pommeled on a United plane because he refused to give up his seat, one he had bought in good faith. The other involved the parents of an infant and toddler. Not only were they falsely told by Delta employees FAA regulations and guidelines forbad restraining their toddler vis-a-vis a child seat secured to a regular seat, they were berated and threatened, telling them they could be arrested and have their children put into foster care.
When one studies the situations closely, one realizes which tugs more at the heartstrings. While both unjust and offering further evidence about corporate America’s callous attitude towards those who have little alternative than to comply, situations that involve the most vulnerable, like a family with small children, raise one’s blood pressure to apoplectic levels. It’s one thing to mug an adult male, but mugging children and threatening mothers stretch beyond the pale.
Mugging children and threatening mothers. Denying access to healthcare because of pre-existing conditions. Which is the higher moral value in a de-humanized world?
It is what the Republican Party has sadly devolved into: Choosing to deny the most vulnerable of potentially life-saving healthcare access speaks loudly and clearly to its values. It’s like yanking mom and her babies but having the good grace to offer them a parachute.
While the immediate problem of the Trump-Republican plan if it becomes law rests on those re-marginalized in terms of healthcare access, it has far more ranging and deeper implications. It is no longer theory or philosophical. It wasn’t a vote to approve a Supreme Court justice or increase spending for more bombs to kill others; it’s about the health and lives of fellow Americans. It’s about moms, grandmas, children, babies, and grown men, flesh-and-blood folks already experiencing the worst life can throw at them.
The Republican Party isn’t some amorphous other thing, some corporate fiefdom headquartered in a steel-and-glass downtown tower. It consists of everyday people who also happen to be friends, neighbors, community members, and family members. And that presents a conundrum: How does one engage and interact with those guilty by association who might or might not support their party’s inhumane and outrageous policies and acts?
The whole thing is, quite frankly, a mess. Stories abound of divided families and lost friendships, as I touched on last week.
Perhaps, it comes down to a psychological and a religious/philosophical practice. Recognize, honor, and give voice to one’s anger. Appropriately. Then keep in mind the admonition, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” (Matt 22: 39, KJV)
It’s a great time to practice both.