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"Isms" Are Bad for Your Health (Care)

Updated on May 19, 2019

I won’t get into the debate of whether health care is a right or not, or whether the proposed health care reform is an attack on capitalism and an attempt to implant socialism as the dominant ideology in U.S. politics, because that isn’t the issue. In fact that highlights the danger of focusing on ideals and ideologies. People fight to defend whatever ideal or ideology they happen to subscribe to, instead of dealing with the problem at hand. Finding a solution to the problem then becomes secondary to a battle of ideologies.

Asking simple questions to identify problems, creating possible solutions then enacting them is the approach President Obama seems to be taking. This is post partisan politics.

President Obama’s simple question on health care was: Should a 53 year old woman who was dying of cancer have been more worried about paying her medical bills than getting well?

His answer to the question is no. I’d answer the same, but there are problems that cause mean worrying about medical bills instead of getting well is the reality for many people. He is trying to create solutions to those problems. Not a solution based on socialism or capitalism. Just a solution that was better than the status quo.

Meanwhile others (including those within his own party) bicker about whether that solution is too socialist, not socialist enough, too capitalist, not capitalist enough and set about defending their world views. “Special interests” lobby to achieve the outcome they want, and extremists (on both sides) engage in all sorts of strange activities. All at the expense of finding a solution that works.

Politics is broken. It has become about defending a world view at the expense of solving problems. President Obama has suggested a type of politics where self interest gives way to collaboration and ideologies give way to movement to find solutions. Not surrendering beliefs and values, but recognizing that maintaining relationships can be as important as values. A politics where bias towards actions that make an improvement (whatever end of the political spectrum those actions originate from) is what it's about.

There is much talk about the evils of welfare, about encouraging dependence on the state, even encouraging laziness or lack of responsibility. But it seems that’s more to do with people’s ideological worldview than what’s actually happening.

Millions of people have been let down by the current system. What can realistically be done to improve the situation. Whichever “ism” you subscribe to is of no use to those people. Practical solutions are what they need. President Obama is trying to offer one.

It’s not even about finding a perfect solution, just a solution that will most certainly need improvement and refining over time, but is better than the current situation. A somewhat inelegant, rag-tag, socialist-capitalist, democrat-republican mongrel of a solution, that is still better than the current state of affairs. There is a space in between what there is now and the ultra-rationalised, government run, private-sector-killing health care system that people are afraid of. President Obama with the help of congress and the American people is trying to find that space.

President Obama seems to be promoting a message to stop bickering about whether the solution to health care is based on your favourite “ism” and start creating a solution that will work. I tend to agree with that message. After all isn’t that exactly what politics is: practical decision making?

When debate focuses on the defence of ideology, “isms” turn into a barrier, “isms” make creating solutions difficult, “isms” become a pain, “isms” get people killed. What’s needed is less bickering over “isms”. More pragmati . . . more problem solving.


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