Republicans are none-too-happy about health care reform’s passage yesterday. That comes as no surprise. Nor do their pledges to use the legislation as a wedge issue in the upcoming midterm elections. Though none of this strikes me as out-of-the-ordinary, it makes me wonder, “Is health care America’s collective Sybil?” Is this evidence that our nation, which claims to be United, has split personalities?
Democrats are largely celebrating yesterday’s passage, of course. President Obama insisted health care reform represents “another stone in the foundation of the American Dream,” while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi described it as a route to allowing citizens “more liberty to pursue.” Republicans, meanwhile, are up in arms. House minority leader John Boehner last night admonished those who supported the bill, saying, “Shame on each and every one of you who substitutes your will and your desires above those of your fellow countrymen.” He also insisted that the GOP would try their darndest to repeal the measure. His party peers, as well as some Democrats who fear being ousted come November, are already making good on that promise: led by Virginia’s March 10th move, twenty states have already filed lawsuits to invalidate the federal law, either through legislative action or by the ballot box. And that would suit Republicans just fine.
Other have quite rightly noted that health care could very well become this election’s big wedge issue, as gay issues were in the past, and spark massive voter turnouts from coast-to-coast. I understand that some Americans see this reform as a “government takeover” and as nothing more than “socialism.” But it’s also, as nearly every newspaper has noted, a “historic” move that will help extend health care to uninsured Americans. And isn’t that for the country’s best?
Ideology aside, we’re the United States, a term that should be more than just a moniker. It should be a promise. It should be illustrated through action. If one American suffers, we all do. For the health of our country, and its longevity, all Americans should push for health care reform because it guarantees a healthy nation-state down the road.
Philosopher Frantz Fanon made a name for himself by critiquing colonialism. The practice, he wrote in The Wretched of the Earth, not only dehumanized the colonized, but also the colonizers who employed violence for their exploitative purposes. The same argument could be made about the insurance companies and those who benefit from their campaign contributions. Rather than honoring the “united” in our nation’s name, these people are looking out for number one, and that number one often goes by the name “capitalism.”
It’s as if our country has developed split personalities: health care opponents want to be “patriots,” yet are so consumed by self-interest that they end up penalizing those who can’t afford the price of healthy living. America has become Sally Field in Sybil, so abused and traumatized that it can’t get its collective head around the greater good.