The difference between convictions and partisanship in the health care debate

Back when the stimulus bill was being floated, American Spectator made this observation about the future of bipartisan relations in a new administration: “So in other words, Obama welcomes a bipartisan debate, but only if Republicans reject their own policies in favor of his spending priorities, only if that debate doesn’t delay passage of the bill that he wants, and as long as cable news shows don’t scrutinize what is actually in the legislation he’s proposing.”

Strong phrasing, yes, but it seems that we have a similar problem with health care. One of the problems with “bipartisanship” is that it’s become a buzzword for giving up your opinions if they don’t jive with the current party in power. While bipartisanship should mean addressing differences of opinion in a civil and decent way, now anyone who disagrees is shoved aside, accused of “partisanship”.

There’s a serious trend emerging that has nothing to do with partisan politics and everything to do with simple convictions. A recent Rasmussen poll shows astounding numbers of Americans are uneasy with Congress’ health care reform, and although proponents of the plan say that this bill will ease financial burden on the poor and middle class, it seems that citizens in those brackets aren’t buying it. According to the poll: “Voters who earn less than $20,000 a year are evenly divided but a majority of all other voters would prefer no action. Middle income voters, those who earn from $40,000 to $75,000 a year, are most strongly in favor of taking no action.”

Since this bill would put government in charge of one-sixth of our national economy, even the “evenly divided” poor should be behind this proposition in much greater numbers in order to justify such a massive shift. It seems crazy to blame conservatives’ partisan ways for the change in public opinion, and thus ignore their concerns and try to pass legislation without their help.

Of course, there are people on both sides of the argument who believe that they are taking a moral stance on health care reform. In all fairness, I admire a “stick-to-your-guns” mentality, even if I don’t agree with the opinion being “stuck to”. However, ramming these policies through by “reconciliation“, and leaving the opposing party and its constituents out in the cold is not a wise move on the part of the White House.  Those who support health care should be respectfully debating its worth or coming to agreements on a middleground, not rushing it past the American people.

Bipartisanship is a great concept, and the idea of reaching a middleground is one that we should all embrace when talking to friends and neighbors about politics and these heated issues. But I think it’s important that we not mistake kindness for weakness. Just because we seek a civil debate does not mean that we’ve lost our convictions, so those in power need to start listening, rather than pointing fingers.

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