I don't talk about politics as much as I should. I stay more or less informed, I read blogs, and I'm more or less constantly angry about what's going on around here, but I don't spend enough time interacting with my acquaintances about it all. Not here on the LJ, and certainly not in person. It's uncomfortable; I'm really not a debate-team sort of person. I can fake it well enough, I suppose, but it takes effort.
I'm going to talk about politics right now. So this is what I've been seeing in the feed reader, today.
President Bush wants to make cuts in a program that provides health insurance to kids whose parents cannot afford it. The Democrats want to keep the program healthy and expand it, because it's a wild success in protecting kids who would otherwise be thrown to the wolves by a merciless and broken healthcare system. So the Democrats put together a radio address by a 12-year-old kid whose family was saved from destitution and ruin by the program in question.
You've connected the dots here, right? Now the family is getting harassing phone calls and workplace visits from right-wing bloggers, Rush Limbaugh is accusing them of being wealthy government sponges, and, oh, aides to Republican Senators are sending emails to reporters making the same made-up accusations.
They got in a car wreck. They make a combined $45,000 a year. Private insurance would cost more than their mortgage.
But you know what, the actual numbers are almost beside the point here, because they would have gone after anyone the exact same way -- show me a family of six living in a cardboard box, and I'll show you a right-winger sneering about their prodigal extravagance. No -- what the Republicans Against Crippled 12-Year-Olds caucus wants to get across to you is a particular mode of thought. They want your support in withholding help from anyone who doesn't "deserve" it (spoiler: you can never actually deserve their help). They want you to not think about the precise medical bill that would send your
family to the poorhouse. They want you to believe that what's yours is yours, and that you absolutely got it simply by being virtuous and hardworking, not
by having the luck to stay healthy, the luck to have parents who could send you to college or protect you from working three jobs at age 16, the luck to be smart, the luck to be white and of an acceptable sexual orientation. They want selfishness, and nearsightedness, and callousness, and miserliness, forever and ever amen.
Here's Digby, because it's a bit that deserves a verbatim blockquote:
And then the sanctimonious right wing vultures will determine whether they "deserve" to eat at Applebees once a month with their four kids or whether they are "cheating" the benevolent tax payers by having a television set or a cell phone since their catastrophically injured kids need help from the government. They will say that Mom and Dad should work two jobs or maybe they shouldn't have had kids in the first place or started their own business. There will be no sense of "there but for the grace of God go I" or no recognition that sometimes life throws you a curve ball and that you need the help of others to get you through.
That was the easy kind of talking about politics. Here comes the kind that I'm not so good at.
Debates over government entitlement programs, especially middle-class ones and especially the ones that move us toward socialized healthcare, tend to bring out a class of very civilized and reasoned libertarian arguments, all based around the very simple principle that what's mine is mine and should not be taken from me and given to others. It's persuasive and seductive, and it kind of breaks my heart whenever I see an obviously good-hearted person deploy it, because those arguments are the thin and inoffensive leading-edge of the wedge whose fat end we saw in action today.
It's that last sentence of Digby's that crystalizes why I resent Libertarianism. What's yours is yours because you got lucky,
and believing otherwise is self-flattery. Determination and hard work and skill are real and important; they also do not mean jack shit if you get hit by something you don't have the resources to handle. The social safety net matters,
What the Republican hard right are doing to that kid and his family is disgusting on a nice visceral level, and it's easy to recognize that it's wrong. It would be a lot easier to make it fucking stop
if more people recognized that there but for the grace of God go all