Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Health Insurance Reform Fight Viewed From Across the Pond

The Brits apparently find the whole thing incomprehensible.
They think we've lost our minds. This BBC report significantly bears the tagline "Make Me Poorer!"

From the report:
If people vote against their own interests, it is not because they do not understand what is in their interest or have not yet had it properly explained to them.

They do it because they resent having their interests decided for them by politicians who think they know best.

There is nothing voters hate more than having things explained to them as though they were idiots.

As the saying goes, in politics, when you are explaining, you are losing. And that makes anything as complex or as messy as healthcare reform a very hard sell.

I've said all along that you can never overstate the power of resentment in American politics. Forget it folks. No matter how much you explain and appeal to reason, no matter how much and how often you point out other countries that have solved this problem, you are just going to dig yourselves into a deeper and deeper hole. This has nothing to do with reason or evidence. For the Teabagger constituency, this is tribal war just as much as in Burundi or the Balkans. In their eyes, we're the enemy tribe. They see themselves as Israel and us as the Canaanites, usurpers and parvenus in a land promised to them (and them alone) by God.

Thomas Frank, author of What's the Matter with Kansas?, makes this very telling point:
You vote to strike a blow against elitism and you receive a social order in which wealth is more concentrated than ever before in our life times, workers have been stripped of power, and CEOs are rewarded in a manner that is beyond imagining.
It's like a French Revolution in reverse in which the workers come pouring down the street screaming more power to the aristocracy.
I think what it boils down to is we've been sold the idea that anyone can win the lottery. Everything from advertising to prosperity gospel gives some of us an almost religious conviction that we hold the winning ticket. Doing the socially responsible thing for our families and our neighbors would just hurt our chances of winning that Powerball Lottery. That conviction that we hold the winning ticket feeds into those older and darker passions fed by a century and a half of history (let's not forget that the South is the only region of the USA that experienced military defeat and occupation).

And meanwhile, the folks who own and run the USA, who are responsible for creating these crises and who continue to profit off of them, sit back and say, "Dance puppets!"

I'm appalled by all of this, and I don't see a way out of the impasse.
The USA is a car that's gone off the road and into a very deep ditch. The passengers are all injured and bloody. Instead of cooperating to climb out of the ditch, the injured passengers all fight each other over who's going first and who's responsible for the accident. Meanwhile, the driver responsible for the accident came out without a scratch and long ago abandoned the accident scene. The passengers are too busy in the wrecked car punching each other's lights out to notice that the driver is gone, or to try to get out. The buzzards circle above.


Michael says the Democrats should stop giving the Republicans blow jobs.

David Kaplan says that the opiate of the masses is not religion, but consumerism. Take away the First Amendment and people will only shrug. Take away their iPhones and watch revolution explode in the streets.
I would say that consumer status toys are to our society what Soma is to Aldous Huxley's Brave New World.


IT said...

Michael has a refreshing way to put it, and he's right.

Unknown said...

I am beginning to believe after my examples with the Democrats that they do not know how to play the game of politics and win!

Without firebrands who can really stand for the people they are wimpy, and that is bad for the people.

JayV said...

Amen to what Michael said!

toujoursdan said...

We've spent the past 60 years fearing Orwell's "1984" and we ended up with Huxley's "Brave New World". People are born into almost inescapable castes, entertainment and pleasure are used to pacify us and keep us from thinking, we worship technology and think we can transcend the laws of nature and our relationships have become more and more transitory.

Welcome to dystopia.