By Manifesto Joe
A recent (Aug. 3-6) nationwide telephone poll by the Marist Institute of Public Opinion found that 45 percent of Americans disapprove of President Obama's handling of health care reform, while 43 percent approved. Here's a link.
Obama won the popular vote last year with 53 percent. This begs the question: What did the "swing" voters, the independents, think they were voting for when they cast ballots for Obama and other Democrats?
And, as for those who are wavering on the issue, did they not expect yet another disinformation barrage, perhaps even worse that the "Harry and Louise" campaign of 1993-94? There are many interest groups -- insurers, pharmaceutical companies, stockholders, doctors and other health care "professionals" -- who have a big stake in the status quo and fear they will lose money if a public option comes to pass. Wasn't a propaganda flood, financed by the vested interests, expected?
My disapproval of Obama's handling of this would be purely idealistic: I favor a single-payer model similar to the ones in Canada and Germany. Even the English, whose National Health Service is often vilified here, are getting highly pissed and coming to the defense of the NHS. Here's another link. No less than renowned scientist Stephen Hawking has asserted that, contrary to U.S. right-wing demagoguery, the NHS saved his life from the longtime ravages of ALS. (Yet another link.)
The idealist in me says, if "socialism" is what they have in Norway and Sweden, where do I sign up? They live longer than Americans do; their babies don't die nearly as often; and their middle class doesn't have to live in fear of bankruptcy if someone comes down with a catastrophic illness.
You don't even have to look at Scandinavian countries with hyperactive welfare states. Australia, perhaps the closest nation to the U.S. ideologically, has something resembling "socialized" medicine.
Among other developed countries in the world, you don't see any of them battling to trade in their government-run programs for the U.S. "Land of the Fee" model, do you?
Their way looks much more like the right path to me.
But -- living in America, and especially in Texas, made me stop being an idealist long ago. It's clear by now that Obama and his "allies" are going to have a hard time just putting over a public option, so single-payer will have to wait, probably until after I'm dead.
Back to the American public -- that 45 percent who disapprove. I'd wager that few of them ever had to actually USE their underperforming health insurance to battle a chronic illness. I have allergies so severe that I depend on multiple medications just to live, and the co-payments and deductibles eat up much of my income. This was not something I did to myself; I was born with allergies.
Let's talk about "death panels." I have the impression that among that 45 percent, their answer for me would be, "Just die and get out of the way." Such people protest loudly at being called Nazilike, but it sounds a lot like eugenics to me.
That 45 percent probably never had to battle cancer, as my wife did in 1992, on one of those swell 80-20 private insurance plans, with a deductible. That experience hurled us into debt that we've never gotten out of to this day. Bankruptcy was actually on the table for us a couple of years ago -- fortunately, we found an alternative.
But we are like many other middle-class Americans in that, even with both of us insured, another major illness could very well plunge us into so much debt that bankruptcy would be certain. And, the insurance companies would have the complete prerogative to drop either or both of us.
That 45 percent: I shudder to think that there are so many profoundly misguided Americans. One can go back to relatively recent history and witness the fickleness of the electorate. In 1992, Clinton pulled off a plurality win, and the Democrats took both houses of Congress solidly. Two years later, the Republicans and their "Contract With America" turned the tables utterly, though not for long.
Back a bit further, in 1974 the Republican Party seemed repudiated and in tatters after Watergate. It only took six years for the Reagan right wing to turn that completely around.
I hope that Obama can stand his ground, and that the electorate doesn't prove to be that fickle in 2010. If my insurance company decides to kick me to the curb, I'd like that public option, or at least something that keeps me from going broke.
Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.
Postscript: CNN reports that at 1:03 p.m. Mountain Standard Time, at a presidential event in Phoenix, a reporter saw a man in the anti-Obama camp carrying an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle. (Arizona has an open-carry law.) Are those mean-spirited lib'ruls gonna call him a Nazi?