Truth Is, History Will Trump Us All On The Rights Or Wrongs Of Obamacare

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.

LDW w glasses


Visit www.lorrainedevonwilke.com for details and links to LDW’s books, music, photography, and articles.

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A Pause From Politics… Or Why I’d Never Want To Be President

Not that anyone’s asking. I did have a long stint in rock & roll, God knows, and there has been some questionable behavior over the years, but, really, it’s the job itself that makes the point. It seems thankless, incredibly difficult, and one that comes with a big, fat, ready-made target for easy back-fastening, no matter who, when, what party, or what issue. I have a hard enough time with internet trolls; the presidency would do me in.

I’m not sure there’s ever been a time in history that hasn’t been dramatic and incendiary – certainly historians tell us that’s the case – but this is a particularly challenging era because now, by virtue of the internet and our 24/7 media saturation, we get to know everything about everything. Or so we think.

I have said very little about the situation in Syria; I’ve posted threads of others, shared thoughts expressed by smart people who seem to have a decent grasp on things, but as I’ve listened, watched, and read as much coverage as I can tolerate in a given day, I’ve mostly kept quiet. Which is not typically my style. But this is a complex, particularly troubling event, happening at a very politically convoluted time, playing out against a world literally breathing down the necks of those trying to sort it out while being battered, bullied and second-guessed by every living soul from Putin to Madonna. I don’t honestly think I have enough true, unbiased, completely factual information to be as firmly opinionated as either of them… or so many others, as it appears to be.

What I do observe is often a simplistic, foot-stomping tone to much of the debate, a tone that sometimes seems juvenile, petulant and lacking in appropriate consideration for the deeply sensitive nuances of the issue – which, likely, few of us are actually privy to. As someone who refuses to get swept into the black & white polarity of most of our political discourse and drama, I’ve stood in the back… listening. And I remain there, as I read and hear lines such as:

  1. I’m so disappointed in my President.
  2. I voted for change… where’s change?
  3. How is this any different than Bush and Cheney?
  4. We need to take care of our own backyard before we worry about the rest of the world.
  5. Love is the answer.
  6. War sucks.
  7. It’s simply not our responsibility.
  8. Syria can take care of its own mess.
  9. They’ll hate us no matter what we do.
  10. America can’t police the world.

And so on.

First of all, of course war sucks. I can’t think of one person in this world – unless they’re a sociopath or an arms dealer (which may be redundant) – who doesn’t think war sucks. And of course love is the answer but, COME ON! We can’t even be nice to each other on the internet; how can we expect “love” to keeps warring factions from their life and death struggles? As for Bush and Cheney? Let’s not get into false equivalencies (though we do so love those). Our backyard vs. the world? When has one precluded the other in terms of separate budgets and resources? Have they? If there’s irrefutable evidence that money has been taken from needed domestic programs to fund international military action, let’s hear about it. That would be a very necessary conversation.

But, strangely, it seems manageable for Americans to think “globally” when it comes to matters of money, difficult when it comes to humanity and the protection of it in certain situations. It’s worth discussing that, as a people, by virtue of what we buy, what we sell and export, what we’re willing to pay for our products, our oil, our gasoline, etc., we’ve easily embraced global interaction, the blurring of lines, if you will, of foreign borders. But even beyond oil, some of our favorites retail stores – Walmart, the Gap, and many other companies – work with business models based on cheap foreign labor and limited regulations. Why? Because we welcome a global community that will bring our costs down, make our products cheaper, keep our labor less expensive and our profit margins higher. Perhaps we should think about how we can so readily embrace “global participation” when it comes to money, but when issues like chemical warfare, ethnic slaughters, political ‘punishments,’ etc., occur, too many Americans suddenly shut the door and start talking about “we gotta take care of America, we can’t get involved in policing the world.”

As for the rest: Obama. Change. Disappointment. War-mongering. Craving the limelight (an accusation made by the usually wise Robert Reich about John Kerry). World War III. Our horrible country. Etc. All that.

It’s a swirling eddy of point and counterpoint. Frankly, I cannot imagine being the leader of the free world and having to ponder, research, weigh and come to decisions about grave national and international matters against a backdrop of EVERYONE’S expertise; everyone’s criticism, anger, unrealistic expectations, self-focused priorities and unremitting judgment. It’s never-ending. The President cannot and will not be able to make any decision that won’t bring down the bludgeons, no matter what he does, which way he turns, or what rationale he relies on. That’s a given. Because, somehow, the great we out here in every-day world, on Facebook and Twitter, listening to talk radio and cable news, sending around petitions and memes, penning treatises about our lack of faith in our country and our leaders, appear to have a remarkable depth of arcane, insider knowledge about what the hell is going on in Syria (and everywhere else, for that matter), enough to micro-manage world leaders, including our president, assigned the responsibility of solving it all. I’m not sure how everyone got so profoundly included in the minutia, the nuances, the details, the intelligence, the hair-trigger possibilities and imminent threats, but it seems they did. And from that vaunted perspective, there is no way for Obama – or anyone else – to win this battle.

Because it’s simply the way of the world, true in every aspect of 21st century life. Writers can’t write anything – even, I suspect, about flowers or kittens – without being pummeled for getting something wrong. Artists can’t make a mistake or flaunt youthful indiscretions without media and its many tentacles ripping them a new one. Politicians of any stripe can’t utter the wrong word, make a faulty decision or appear in any way fallibly human without the mob throwing them to the lions. How on earth could a president, a senator, a cabinet member, or a military leader make any decision without SOMEONE screaming they got it wrong? They can’t.

I am against war. I don’t even own a gun. I find the idea of maiming, hurting, shooting, bombing, poisoning and annihilating each other in the name of religions, countries, regions, ethnicities, politics, family feuds or neighborhood boundaries INSANE; anathema to everything hopeful, humane, and holy. And yet war has been the most predictable, most common, most connecting thread between human beings since the dawn of time. Wish though it would, it will not be going anywhere soon. Likely ever. Love may be the answer but war is the machine, driven by men who are hell-bent on aggression and power… or, as in many cases, driven by those with a sense that they’ve lost something of profound value, taken by those hell-bent on aggression and power.

As for Syria, I hope we can find a way to respond to the horrors there without bombing, without military action, without further decimation of that country and its people. I hope we can be part of a global coalition that upholds international law against chemical weapons (regardless of anyone’s past use), that imposes “economic sanctions or a freeze on Syrian assets,” as Robert Reich suggestswithout embarking on what no one wants… another war. Can that be done? I don’t know. But, then again, I personally do not have all the intelligence that is being shared, analyzed and judged by those in positions to act upon it. None of us do. So, because I don’t happen to believe our leaders, particularly our President, are amoral enough to go blithely into war for no reason, I will put my faith and trust in their decision and hope they get it right. Because, right now, they know more than I do.

And lastly: I wrote a piece at Addicting Info awhile back that I’ve chosen to take to heart: All News All The Time Just May Be Very Bad For Your Health. I’ve been involved with political writing and commentary for a while now and have decided to take a pause for a bit. That’s not to say I won’t have things to share on political matters from time to time; I’ll certainly take advantage of social media to stay in the conversation and, as a freelance writer, will gladly take political assignments as they come. But particularly after an election year, with all the drama of our crazy world before and after, the sheer immersion in the genre has taken a bit of a spiritual and creative toll. I’m veering off to focus on some new projects, others that have been neglected in the meantime, but I’m also just going to get quieter, more contemplative and observational for a bit. There’s a lot of noise out there, not all of it healthy or productive, and I want to step back, refresh my spirit, make sure what I’m contributing when I do contribute furthers the cause and isn’t just more noise. I mention this only because a few of you have asked where I’ve been; why I haven’t covered this or that, and I figured – after sharing hundreds of political pieces with you over the years – an explanation was in order. I’ll be around, I just won’t be publishing quite as much, at least regarding politics.

But what I do write, create, photograph, or sing, I will share… you know me!  And I will always welcome your enjoyment and response. Until later, then.

LDW w glasses


Visit www.lorrainedevonwilke.com for details and links to LDW’s books, music, photography, and articles.