As the Affordable Care Act continues to roll out with its underwear exposed and seam lines in clear view, its hapless designers pilloried, ridiculed, insulted and compared – in gross false equivalency – to any number of true tragedies (Hurricane Katrina??) or lapses in moral character (Nixon??), one has to wonder how folks as old as any of us viewing, teeth-gnashing, or commenting on this moment in time are not more aware that our perceptions are flawed. Deeply flawed. Because we’re still in it. And time has proven, over and over again, that only History gets to decide.
I’ve mentioned once or twice that I am not covering politics with quite the verve or frequency of yore (you may have read my piece, A Pause From Politics…), but occasionally the high-water mark of inanity rises to such a level my alarm bell goes off and I have to speak for the sake of my own sanity.
You can’t open any media site, scroll the Facebook feed, trip through Twitter or glance at a newspaper or magazine without being bombarded with polls, analyses, dissection, judgment, hysteria; any manner of outrage at – as one right-leaning journalist put it – “the catastrophic launch of the Affordable Care Act.”
“Catastrophic”?? Seriously? What blew up? Who died? Who had their limbs cut off?
You’d think the man had lined up a raft of toddlers and shot ’em at the wall.
The degree of anger and denunciation at “the debacle that is the Obamacare roll out” is so insanely out of proportion with reality – not only the history of how other major programs rolled out, but the facts of the ACA’s intent, long-term implications, desperately needed existence, and ultimate and likely very positive impact on Americans’ health and economy – that I truly wonder what it is about change and the implementation of it that seems to drive people to such hyperbole and madness. I get it: the website sucked, confusion reigns, the insurance companies pulled a bait & switch, better plans cost more, but COME ON!
I’ve seen perfectly nice, seemingly logical, and clearly intelligent men and women turn into self-righteous, bizarrely petulant foot-stompers “demanding” that Obama apologize (that he did is irrelevant; apparently this catastrophe demands a very specific form of apology); fire Katherine Sebelius, and draw and quarter the tech team who put the site together. There is a hissing meme going around that “HE LIED!”, layered on top of the demand that he accept blame for everything, but not admit “I don’t know” about anything because God-like omniscience is also demanded (but imagine the hell to pay if he actually implied thus!). It seems this crowd won’t stop demanding things until he’s flogged in the public square and, if possible, guts himself completely for the satisfaction of those OUTRAGED BY THIS CATASTROPHE!!!
Dear God. Grab some stones and get the Coliseum tickets!
I’m not going to bother listing reasons for why this is all so silly. I won’t enumerate the many examples of the GOP rabidly fighting the President every step of the way on healthcare reform, with racial politics driving much of the opposition. I won’t mention toxic fringe groups (i.e., the Tea Party) embracing theocracy and bigotry in lieu of logic. There’s no need to describe the current culture of trolls with their virulent hate speak poisoning and perverting the social experiment of democratized online communication, or discussing how extreme partisanship has tainted anything any administration would have to offer, much less one led by a black man. It’s all been well documented.
What I will say is that while it’s expected for Republicans and their toadies to glow with Schadenfreude over the clunky, clumsy roll-out of the Affordable Care Act, it’s another to watch typically less lemming-like others march in step. But as those various factions pontificate on social media, breathlessly announce falling poll numbers, hash and rehash the same stories over and over, trumpet their prognostications and predictions of doom in the very unAmerican act of negative, destructive and counterpoint thinking, History is quietly taking note.
And History – only History – will be the arbiter of just how great or not great this president is; just how momentous or minor the Affordable Care Act will prove, and just how right or wrong the many hoots and hollers of a caterwauling public turn out to be. History listens to no one, has no party; is not bound by dogma. And it has proven over and over again that what is viewed in the moment, particularly if that moment exists in the dark tunnel of partisanship, fear, selfishness, greed, prejudice, and mob hysteria, always pushes through time into the unencumbered, often redemptive, embrace of History. There is where we will see just how “catastrophic” a country’s, a President’s, an administration’s efforts to right a very wrong system turn out to be.
I’m holding a good thought.
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