Much as I try to understand political conservatives, I find their message garbled and often laced with half-truths or approximations and over-the-top demonizing language directed at their opponents. David Brooks of The New York Times is a rare exception. His writing is clear, free of personal animosity, unfettered by the influence of power and money and in harmony with my belief that we humans have an obligation to help each other.
Clear-eyed and thoughtful conservatives remain silent when Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann or Ted Cruz blanket the airwaves with nonsense. Perhaps they fear being outflanked on the right by tea party primary candidates or the loss of financial backing. Whatever their motivation, their silence creates a void that is often filled by hateful, belligerent and irrational voices. One Joseph McCarthy was enough.
No doubt, my point will be countered by a simple, yet predictable argument. Politicians on the left do the same thing. I'll concede that point but counter with the suggestion that two wrongs don't make a right. Hatred, ignorance, intolerance and outright prejudice do not serve the public good, no matter the source.
Locally, Matt Kinnaman and Jim Bronson speak for the Republican Party. In "Local GOP: Republicans should have kept fighting" (Eagle, Oct. 18), Mr. Bronson suggests that the Republican Party should have continued the shutdown. To support his position, Mr. Bronson argues, "The IRS is controlling and administering the way your health care works."
Before I challenge that statement, I point out that the health care program currently in force in Massachusetts was the creation of Mitt Romney, a Republican. It also requires the state to monitor the citizenry to determine who is insured and who isn't. It levies a fine or tax against those who choose to live in the commonwealth without health insurance.
As this program was being developed, I recall no criticism directed at it by the Massachusetts Republicans, including Mr. Bronson and Mr. Kinnaman. I do, however, recall the Republican claim that Romneycare proves that they really do care about the uninsured. Perhaps Mr. Bronson and Mr. Kinnaman might concede that this plan was in part the brainchild of the Heritage Foundation, a powerful Republican conservative think tank. I don't recall that Mr. Bronson or any other Republican in the state categorized Romneycare as a "..classic big government boondoggle."
Far from a big government health insurance program, Obamacare preserves the private sector as the only place where insurance can be obtained. There is no public option. Citizens are required to choose from a wide variety of private health insurance options or pay a penalty for refusal.
Other forms of insurance are required in the commonwealth of Massachusetts including auto insurance and homeowners insurance. Lending institutions require homeowners to insure homes or they will deny mortgages and all registered vehicles must be insured. I recall no accusation from Republicans that these requirements represent a government "boondoggle." Human lives are at least as important as the homes we purchase and the cars we drive.
As part of his argument decrying the closing of our national parks and monuments, Mr. Bronson accuses President Obama of inflicting "pain." With all due respect to Mr. Bronson, the disappointment of being unable to visit a monument or a national memorial falls short of the "pain" threshold. I submit that a parent with a very sick child and with no access to health insurance or affordable medical treatment does meet the pain threshold. Republicans speak of death panels, presumably government bodies that will supposedly determine who gets what treatment. Missing from their argument is any concern that medical treatment for millions of uninsured people will bankrupt them.
I would welcome a conservative solution that would make health care accessible to all Americans who are deserving of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." If we go back to the system we relied upon before the Affordable Health Care law is fully implemented, many millions of citizens will lose their coverage.
I am more than willing to listen to Mr. Kinnaman and Mr. Bronson if they can provide a factual argument that will explain how we can achieve accessibility. I will not be persuaded by arguments that are based upon approximation and demonization nor will I consider name-calling as an acceptable substitute for logic and honesty.
The Torah set forth requirements that the corners of fields should remain unharvested so that the hungry could glean the crops. It does not instruct us to improve the lot of the poor by condemning and demonizing them. Furthermore, it establishes that human kindness and compassion are not optional. It is both unfortunate and inexcusable that the Affordable Health Care Act has created a bad impression with a poorly designed web system. However, that does not detract from the goal of expanding health care services to include millions of uninsured citizens.
As to Mr. Bronson's disappointment that the government shutdown ended, I would appreciate a cogent argument that demonstrates how the loss of $24 billion has benefited the nation.
Edward Udel is a frequent Eagle contributor.