Rare Book Monthly

Articles - September - 2009 Issue

Commentary: On a Sunday Morning

Oasm

Democracy fails when citizens are passive



By Bruce McKinney

Let the Silent Majority be Heard

I have watched with fascination and regret as the America, to which I owe allegiance, has been exposed again as the captive of special interests and a coterie of bought-and-paid-for politicians who are determined to place the best interests of their handlers above the needs of the population they serve. As it is for so many Americans the cost and availability of health care is very important to me. Over the past 15 years the monthly cost of my family's healthcare coverage, in our case at Kaiser Permanente in California, has risen almost 500% even as co-pays have increased by three times. We are in a vicious inflationary cycle in medical care and the very people who most profit from it are using the money we spend to pay for lobbying to stop reform.

Most people watching television have seen the disruption of public meetings by those who oppose reform. I have no problem that they feel strongly although their behavior is too often objectionable. It is their right to object. I too have a right to express my opinion and I would like to do so as part of a national program of support. I know that I am not alone.

Somewhere in the national, state and local leaderships there are people capable of organizing a National Day of Support for health care reform. I want it, my family will need it and I believe all Americans will benefit whether or not they opt for it. By providing a Medicare-like choice, which is already providing efficient-lower cost coverage for senior citizens, private plans will be forced to compete with it. If their costs get out-of-line citizens will shift to the national plan. For providers, it is fear of this competition that causes them to fund the various hate groups and extremists that are over-powering legitimate supporters and opponents, so polarizing the discussion that America comes across as a nation of strange, gun-toting liberty-firsters. All that I ask is a chance to stand up for a few hours on an afternoon this fall to show my support for this needed national program. Opponents are standing up. Advocates who do not wish to yell or be yelled at should also have opportunities to stand with the like-minded to demonstrate their convictions.

I do not look for medicine to save me from myself. I believe it is my responsibility to control my weight and be periodically tested for those conditions my genes pre-dispose me. Neither do I expect to live an over-long life nor do I feel government has an obligation to keep me alive beyond my awareness and physical capability. Neither do I accept that I must be tethered to a private health care system that can say, should I want or need to move, that because I had cancer a dozen years ago, any new policy will view a reoccurrence as an exception to coverage. Although I rarely use my health care insurance for anything but aches, pains and check-ups I and millions of others are locked into inflexible programs. The government option will free me to move if I choose.

So give me the opportunity to stand up for a national option and I will stand up.

Let those that organize, organize. A million will appear upon the National Mall in Washington, a million more in Central Park in New York, a million in Grant Park in Chicago. Provide the places and perhaps a tee-shirt. In smaller parks in smaller communities as well Americans of like-mind can do the same. I and many others will be there. Then, for a few hours, whether our preferences prevail, we will make clear that the zealots disrupting the town-halls and the mincing politicians who support them are not the only people with a voice.

If then, on that chosen Sunday, millions of voices rise together to remember the words and sing the song We Shall Overcome I think we may because our political leaders will hear our voices and perhaps remember that it matters.

Organize!

Bruce McKinney

bmckinney@americanaexchange.com


Editor's Note: This commentary has drawn much comment, both pro and con. It can be found in our Letters to the Editor.

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