The problem with the healthcare debate

I went to college when Promise Keepers (PK) was huge.  During my sophomore year of college PK had a huge rally on the National Mall in  Washington D.C. on a Saturday in October.  On that particular Saturday I was scheduled to play pep-band for the homecoming soccer game. I begged the director of the band, who was also an active participant in PK, to let me go.  He eventually let me go, but he wasn’t happy about it.  The reason it was so important for me to go was because it was hyped up as an event that would make history.

In the end it was a big event, but not necessarily historical – in the sense that it would be written about in history books. There have been several events like this one where I felt the need to be part of them because they would ‘make history’. Thankfully, I’m older and wiser now and the lure of making history doesn’t motivate my participation in events any longer.

As I have been listening to the back and forth banter regarding the healthcare legislation that is trying to move through Congress, I can’t help but be reminded of my former motivation.  If you listen to Ms. Pelosi speak on the topic, nearly every time she’ll mention that they’re going to make history with this bill – in fact nearly everybody that favors the bill will mention it. While it’s true that this bill will make history, not passing the bill would also be a historical event. In fact they could do they hokey-pokey and it would be historical.

The problem with this motivation is that it causes people to skirt their responsibility in favor of delusions of grander.  Just like I skipped out on my responsibilities in pep-band to be part of something that ended up being big deal for the 2 days following. The Congress by pushing, what pretty much everybody accepts as, a bad bill in order to make history is also skipping out on their responsibilities.  Responsible healthcare reform is a great idea, but the way they’re going after it in order to make history has dropped the responsible from the equation.

If they were going after healthcare reform to actually make things better rather than as a way of showing they’ve made history, then they’d be willing to slow down and focus on what is being done.  Back room deals and strange procedural hacks are not the sign of someone trying to be responsible, they’re the sign of someone desperate to make something happen no matter the consequences.  They need to drop the goal of making history and focus on making changes that everybody accepts will help.

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