September 10, 2009

The Party of Selfishness: Republican Opposition to Health Care Reform

"Republican Party Elephant" logoImage via Wikipedia

Have you seen any of the clips from Rep. Lynn Jenkins' (R-KS) July town hall? I was watching it the other night, and I think it contained a moment that perfectly sums up the Republican mind set when it comes to health care reform and most social programs. Jenkins received a great question from Elizabeth Smith, a constituent whose employer does not provide health insurance and cannot afford private insurance.
I want an option that I can pay for. I work. I pay my bills. I'm not a burden on the state. I pay my taxes. So why can't I get an affordable option? Why are you against that?
It is a fair question at which Jenkins initially laughs and then responds in a condescending manner, suggesting that "people should...go be a grown-up and go buy the insurance." But none of this was what really got my attention.

No, even though Rep. Jenkins appeared to be saying something akin to "let them eat cake," this was not the significant moment for me. That came when someone in the crowd could be heard shouting the following to Ms. Smith:
Why should we pay for your health care?
I have a very difficult time seeing this sentiment as anything but pure selfishness. It goes beyond a mere lack of empathy and arrives at what I can only describe as an antisocial attitude. The unidentified audience member might as well have been saying,
As long as I have mine, to hell with everybody else!
Where does such a despicable attitude come from? Is this what people are learning at church these days? Are parents actually teaching their children this sort of contempt for their neighbors? Are we destined to turn into a society of sociopaths?

I suppose we can find consolation in the fact that the town halls weren't nearly as heated as many in our media would like us to believe. Then again, the behavior of South Carolina Republican Rep. Joe Wilson last night was a stark reminder of the degree to which our political discourse has deteriorated.

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