This is a post I made on Sept. 10, 2009 on Phil Plaits "Bad Astronomy Blog". It is an indirect reply to the many people supporting health care reform and the idea that anyone protesting the President's efforts is either crazy or racist.
"It would be nice if everyone here, or even better all Americans, had a better historical grasp of the politics and history surrounding American political discourse. Ever since the presidential election of 1800 there has been extremist rhetoric. Federalists saw the election of Anti-Federalist Thomas Jefferson as the death knell of the Republic. Just a few years later Aaron Burr shot Alexander Hamilton in a duel over claimed political bad mouthing. Political cartoons called Abe Lincoln everything from a tyrant to a barbaric ape. America is no worse off now than it was at the beginning. This “lunatic fringe” is just doing its job. As distasteful as it may seem to many of you, they are the “cheer leaders and pep squads” for their party’s base. The rhetoric becomes especially bad when a party becomes a minority party as they need to build awareness of political differences while demonizing the opposition (making the opposition out to be evil incarnate is especially important in a country with historically low voter turn out). As a student of International Politics, History and Research and Intelligence Analysis I recommend that many of you do some Google searches and read some of the enlightening political mudslinging that has occurred in the past.
That being said I must offer up the disclaimer that I am a registered Republican, though I voted Libertarian in 2004 and 2008 and hold no true party loyalty. I was thoroughly disgusted with George W. Bush and disliked his foreign, social and economic policies. But I truly hope that Republicans recapture control of at least one portion of Congress. During Clinton’s eight years his democratic presidency was well balanced by a Republican Congress and America saw one of its longest economic booms ever. Unfortunately, with the Democrats in control of both Congress and the Presidency there is far less in terms of Checks and balances and a growing unwillingness to compromise (from both parties). I am truly not a fan of the Republicans (in fact I was a Democrat in college and met Bill Clinton while working on his campaign in 1992), but Indiana’s open primary system makes it too easy to stay whatever party I wish without worrying during local elections. In fact I’m only now a Republican to pay homage to Lincoln, my favorite President.
As for the issues Obama has been an abject failure. From a personal liberty point of view he has made no effort to curtail the failed war on drugs. Even in California legal pot sellers are still being arrested by the DEA. He has made no effort to expand gay rights or at least end federal discrimination. He has made only minor moves to end the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, and Gitmo remains a prison for many wrongly accused “suspected terrorists.” He has expanded, not curtailed, the secrecy surrounding many government programs that he derided while Bush was president. Illegal wiretapping and eves-dropping continues unabated. Economically he has greatly increased the national debt by using tax payer’s to bail out failing corporations. And while started under Bush, Obama greatly expanded the effort. His recovery efforts have done nothing to turn the economy around except push the dollar down in value, yet despite this the trade deficit is once again rising. Cap-and-trade is a poor idea as is direct government assistance to create “green” jobs (just read about Spain’s experience with this). And lastly, health care “reform” is a disaster waiting to happen. And while he [Wilson] may not be lying about covering illegal immigrants (something I don’t have too big of problem about as immigrants put more into the economy than they take out) he is lying when he says prices won’t go up, rationing won’t occur and people will be able to keep their current insurance. It’s a simple matter of supply and demand. If more people are covered, either by a government plan or by forced mandate, demand increases. When demand increases price go up. Of course the government can place price caps, which are essentially a form of rationing, but that will lead to a decrease in the number of available doctors (as they bail for a more lucrative field of work) and a decrease in medical innovation (yes the best scientific innovation is profit driven, just ask the winners of the
X-prize). All this while adding another level of government bureaucracy and its associated cost. I have a congenital heart defect and have been among the uninsured before but I still oppose this type of health care reform. Real reform would end the Prescription Drug Benefit, allow people to shop for drugs out of country, scale back Medicare and Medicade to only apply to those who are truly poor, mandate transparency for pricing in hospitals and drug companies so people could comparative shop and move away from insurance being tied to having a job.
People who oppose Obama do see him as a socialist because many of his programs mirror the socialist programs of Europe. Its fine to borrow good ideas from other countries but lets look around and not get hung up on the foolish fascination with “Europe knows best.” Until recently America was the most competitive economy in the world with one of the lowest unemployment rates. Throwing that away should be seen as a bad thing.
P.S. Phil you seemed like a nice guy at TAM 6, but Shermer and Penn and Teller have it right…Skepticism should extend to politics. That’s not cynicism that’s extending rational problem solving to all facets of human behavior."
I think it does a pretty good job in covering my own view on such matters.