Peter Lemiska
The debate is over -- let the debate begin
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By Peter Lemiska
March 8, 2010

On March 3, Barack Obama announced, with obvious frustration, that the health care debate was over. Everything to say has been said, and every argument has been made. No doubt the public agrees with those comments. After a year and a half, they've heard and seen it all. They're growing weary of the orchestrated photo ops that exploit doctors, technicians, researchers, and sundry white-suited medical professionals in a clumsy effort to sway the American people. They're tired of watching the impassioned speeches before hand-picked audiences, reinforced by the obligatory nodding of on-stage supporters. And though they are sympathetic to the plight of those who have fallen through the cracks in our health care system, they've had enough of the countless heart-breaking anecdotes suggesting mass victimization by ruthless health insurance companies. While the theatrics worked fairly well during his campaign, most Americans have since caught on to Barack Obarnum, the showman.

But he's right about one thing. The debate is over. The public has decided. Beginning early last year Americans in town meetings across the country were already speaking out passionately against more government expansion, our exploding national debt, and a hastily-written health care bill that legislators hadn't even read. It was the grass-root movement that Nancy Pelosi off-handedly dismissed as "astroturf."

Then came the elections in Virginia, New Jersey, and, most notably Massachusetts, where voters chose a Republican, Scott Brown, the candidate who campaigned on the promise to derail the looming health care bill. At the time, Obama seemed to accept Brown's victory graciously, announcing that the bill was dead. He even proclaimed that there should be no votes in the senate until its newest member was seated. Yet when he made that seemingly magnanimous gesture, he was already considering an alternate and more devious means of passing the legislation.

And the people have spoken in others ways. The Pew Research Center released a survey in January asking participants to rank their top priorities for the president and congress. Health care ranked number eight behind issues like the economy, jobs, and deficit reduction. In an NBC/Wall Street Journal survey conducted in January, only 33% of respondents indicated Obama's health reform effort was a good idea, while 46% considered it a bad idea. And respondents to a Rasmussen poll released on the first of this month rejected Obama's plan by a 52% 44% margin. In poll after poll, in town hall meetings, and at the polling booths, the American people overwhelmingly reject the plan they see as costly, corrupt, and confusing. Some provisions may even be unconstitutional, like the requirement that all citizens purchase health insurance. Ultimately, most believe, the plan will result in a cavernous national debt, higher taxes, increased insurance premiums, and health care rationing.

Yet Obama and the Democratic leadership are more determined than ever to get this bill passed, and are willing to use any means necessary to do so, including reconciliation, the same process that Obama and congressional Democrats have, themselves, strenuously condemned, the process that Senator Harry Reid and then-Senator Joe Biden called an "arrogance of power," the same process that Reid indignantly proclaimed was not even under consideration at the health care summit last month.

So the public has weighed all the arguments, and concluded that this bill is a bad idea. Yet congress continues the debate in a desperate effort to thrust it upon the American people.

And though they believe they are working out a health care bill, this debate is about something else. It is a contest between political ideology and the democratic process. It is about what right congress has to circumvent the will of the people. It is about the blind determination and boundless hypocrisy of a president and a congress poised to use the very same tactics that they unanimously denounced five years ago.

There has been a lot of talk about the near certain losses the Democrats face later this year if they defy the voters and pass this bill. Nancy Pelosi is telling fellow Democrats to show courage, to ignore the polls and put aside their own political futures. Yes, it will take courage to put aside their careers, but it will take far greater courage to stand up to the likes of Pelosi and fulfill their obligations to their constituents. In considering this bill, those who distinguish themselves as leaders will focus, not on the upcoming election, but on their oath of office, their commitment to the Constitution, and their responsibility to the American people. If they forge ahead in defiance of the people's will, it is not democracy in action, it is nothing but unbridled arrogance and abuse of power.

© Peter Lemiska

 

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Peter Lemiska

Peter Lemiska is a freelance writer and former Senior Special Agent of the U.S. Secret Service... (more)

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