So, Congress passed a health-care bill. Depending on who you believe, it was either a resounding victory for the long-oppressed American people or a socialist disaster that will bankrupt the country and take away all our freedoms.
Good Lord, folks, some perspective, please. Most provisions of the bill don't even take effect for four years. Watching the health-care debate reminded me of a British soccer game. One side screams, "Yes. We. Can!" The other side shouts, "No. We. Can't!" (Then someone yells, "baby-killer!")
Big national policy decisions have turned from wonky debates to reality-show histrionics. Egged on by the tearful entreaties of Glenn Beck, the cynical bile of Rush Limbaugh, and the nonstop, anti-Obama propaganda of Fox News, millions of Americans are losing their grip. People on Twitter were calling for the assassination of the president. On Facebook, many posted Psalm 109:9: "Let his days be few; and let another take his office." (I guess wishing the president would die isn't as bad as calling for his assassination.)
The last debate that raged this fiercely was over George Bush's invasion of Iraq in 2003. Lots of people, including me, thought that decision was the result of a criminal manipulation of intelligence and would end up being a waste of American lives and resources. Seven years later, was the relative stability there now worth the blood and treasure? Depends on which American — or which Iraqi — you ask.
Will the new health-care plan work? I don't know. I do know that I can now put my 23-year-old stepdaughter on our family health plan and stop worrying about what will happen if she has a medical emergency. And in a couple of years, I'll know better how I feel about the new plan.
It takes time to evaluate policy decisions. Bill Kristol, of all people, said something sensible this week: "Key parts of Obamacare — especially the subsidies — don't go into effect until 2014. So what Republicans have to do is to make the 2010 and the 2012 elections referenda on Obamacare, win those elections, and then repeal Obamacare."
Yep. That's how the system is supposed to work. Let the people decide whether they like something or not. Have another election. Majority rules. And unlike a war, with health care, you can have a do-over if you don't like it.
In the 14 years I've been the Flyer editor, I've gotten lots of hate mail. It mostly used to come in envelopes filled with pages of scrawled handwriting. I read them and put them in the wastebasket, chalking it up as a natural by-product of writing for a liberal paper in the conservative South. Lately, the angry folks have switched to email, and it comes in waves ...