Albert Einstein’s Christmas Message: the Modern GOP Fail/Health Care Reform edition
I’ve been reasonably obsessed about the health care debate — its certainly had an impact on my blogging output, among much else.
Like many of us, I suspect, I got trapped in the horror/fascination of the battleground within the Democratic party: what would happen to the public option, abortion language, why we can’t offer Medicare to more Americans and so on. I felt the surges of joy (yay! I”ll be eligible for Medicare in a few years) and rage, (Joseph *#@!*& Lieberman did what?) and wailed that even after a legendary shift in nominal party power we Democrats couldn’t get the most basic plank of our platform erected in good order.
But now, with the latest (and perhaps the tallest) hurdle leapt, with the prospect of a highly imperfect but much-better-than-what-we’ve-got-now approach to health care in this country that much closer to hand, I’ve remembered what should have been at the front of mind throughout. Bad as the Democratic party has handled at least some of this, the real revelation of this entire season has been the moral desert that is the contemporary GOP.
Recall that this is, more than ever, the party of ostentatious Christianity. Prominent Republicans have never been bolder in asserting claims of superior values, truer faith, as against their presumptively impious Democratic rivals. I’m racing family celebrations and a nine year old who wants to play Vikings with me (let us smite!), so I’m not going to dig up the links we all know anyway — the nonesense that Sarah Palin utters any times her lips are seen to move; Huckabee’s self righteousness; name your Senator (who will never, ever, comment on the GOP values represented by Messrs. Ensign and Vitter), and so on.
And in that context, thinking today of the ceremonies to come in honor of the traditional anniversary of Jesus’ birthday (and yes, I certainly know of the ahistoricity of Christmas), I am once again stunned, as only someone who is much younger and less steeped than I in the hypocrisy of the travesty that the GOP has brecome should be, at the extraordinary gap between the Republican Party’s leadership and base assertion of Christian righteousness and an approach to governing this country that would make Jesus weep.
Which is to say: whatever you may wish to argue as a policy wonk about the best way to fix American health care, no sentient being can argue that the current system is anything but a moral evil. I mean that literally: any system which by its design, by what happens if it works as each component is supposed to, must kill tens of thousands unnecessarily each year, seems to me as clearly seen as evil as any human act.
Add to that all the sorrow and woe that comes from the system short of death, and the daily erosion of our economic and political power that ensues as a result of such a misallocation of capital and government resources.
So, looking back on the last six months or so, what truly stands out, for all the tumult and gnashing of teeth on the Democratic side of the aisle, is the total, unanimous, undifferentiated rejection of any attempt to change that situation for the better by Republicans who are, after all, putting themselves forward as those who should return to governing power within a year. It’s not that they had different approaches to this problem. It is rather, as everyone by now has noticed, that their only answer to Democratic proposals was to say, in effect, the status quo, the murderous, costly, America-weakening status quo is just fine.
Recall: not one GOP senator proposed a meaningful amendment in the recent process. No one came forward and said if you address this or that concern, I’ll cross the aisle to permit more American families to gain access to hospitals and doctors and the rest. Even that allegedly thoughtful GOP solon, Olympia Snowe could not in the end vote for a bill that had answered every objection she raised during months of negotiations…because it was, she said, too rushed a process.
In that context, it is clear to me, at least, that for every church service the GOP leaders and its base may attend over the next 24 hours; for every swelling in their hearts they may feel as they contemplate the birth of that figure said to have formed the essential bridge between flawed humanity and divine perfection; for every time any of them condemns any Democrat for failures of faith or patriotism…
…those who chose to answer the question of can we do better by ourselves and our fellow citizens with such an unrelenting “No!” have some ‘splainin to do. Not to me, but to that figure three kings are said to have travelled far to adore.
Or, as Albert Einstein put it when asked his opinion of what was going on across Europe not too long before the Christmas season in that grim year of 1915:
Why so many words when I can say it in one sentence, and in a sentence very appropriate for a Jew: Honor your Master Jesus Christ not only in words and songs, but rather foremost by your deeds.
That is all.
Image: Quentin Massys, “The Adoration of the Magi,” 1526