This is how far modern-day conservatives have walked the Tea Party's right-wing plank: progressives like me now look back on Republicans like George W. Bush (and his father, George H.W.) a lot more fondly than we did when they were president.
Like Ronald Reagan, both of the Bush's would be viewed as dangerously -- gasp!-- moderate by today's GOP faithful. Remember when "compassionate conservatism" was viewed positively by Republicans?
Just three years after George W. Bush left the White House, compassionate conservatives are an endangered species. In the new Tea Party era, they've all but disappeared from Congress, and their philosophy is reviled within the GOP as big-government conservatism. Is this just a case of the Republican Party wanting to distance itself from the Bush years — or is compassionate conservatism gone for good?
...There is a meanness to the way many Republicans talk about the poor these days that was not en vogue during the Bush years. Unlike Huckabee, they are angry conservatives.
...Just before the South Carolina primary, a progressive Christian group called the American Values Network released an animated video, "Tea Party Jesus," to mock the disconnect between popular conservative rhetoric and Gospel teachings. In a "Sermon on the Mall," a cartoon Jesus stands flanked by GOP politicians and pundits as he declares, "Blessed are the mean in spirit … blessed are the pure in ideology." It didn't take long for a Tea Party site to promote the video instead of taking offense.
Tea Party activists might not have gotten the joke, but if the Republican Party rejects completely the idea of compassion for struggling Americans, it will be no laughing matter.
Right now I should be basking in the glow of my prescient prediction (redundant?) that the Supreme Court would give the Affordable Care Act a legal thumbs-up. I was correct about that, but I didn't anticipate the post-decision meanness of conservatives.
This is no joke.
In 2010, 26,100 people aged 25-64 died prematurely because of a lack of health care coverage. That's almost nine times as many people as perished in the 9/11 attacks. And it happens every year in the United States, one of the richest countries in the world (but not the greatest).
No other economically advanced nation is this backward.
Thomas Kang put up a great post where he offers advice to disgruntled conservatives who want to emigrate to some country which doesn't have universal health care -- even though the Affordable Care Act barely qualifies as such.
Anyway, that got me wondering where these poor uninformed folks could actually move to instead. Canada is out, as I mentioned, as are most European countries (England, France, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, Italy, Spain...), Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, Argentina, Brazil... basically, most of the countries that Americans enjoy visiting all have full-blown socialized medicine programs that make Obamacare look tame by comparison. A quick search led me to the Wikipedia entry for "universal health care", which has the handy map you see below.
The orange countries have universal healthcare, the grey countries do not, the yellow countries are going universal, and the few brown countries apparently have healthcare coverage funded by the US.
So for all the Obamacare refugees-to-be out there, I have some great news! To escape the tyranny of Obamacare and satisfy your non-nationalized medicine cravings, you still have plenty of options all around the world. Pretty much anywhere in Africa fits the bill. You can also check out China and North Korea, which should hopefully put to rest any claims that universal health care is somehow linked to Communism.
It looks like Indonesia and the Philippines are also fair game if you prefer living by the beach in a warm, tropical climate. There are also some places in South America that seem to be holding firm against the orange tide of universal health care, such as Colombia and Peru, and they're close enough to the States that you can still visit your friends every once in a while and offer them your sympathies for having to pay for their mandatory health coverage under Obamacare while you're living large in the Andes.
What the hell is wrong with us? More accurately, what's wrong with American right-wingers who have forgotten (assuming they ever knew) what it means to be a compassionate, caring person?
Driving around today, I heard a conservative phone in to a progressive talk radio show. One of the first things he said was, "I want everybody who can hear my voice to know one thing: conservatives are just as compassionate as liberals."
The hostess of the show clearly didn't agree, but she gave the guy a chance to show off his compassion. "So, do you believe that everybody with a serious health problem who needs medical care, should get that care?"
"No," he replied. "Then you're not compassionate!" she told him. Absolutely correctly.
The conservative was in massive irrational denial. He couldn't see the absurdity of his dogmatic Tea Party position. The guy didn't believe poor people were entitled to health care if they were sick, or to food if they were hungry. That's a defensible political position, but please, don't call it compassionate.
Compassion involves feeling the pain of others. More: a compassionate person wants to do something to help those in need. Switching radio channels today I heard several conservatives hold forth about why they didn't like the Affordable Care Act.
None of them expressed the slightest degree of sympathy for the low income uninsured who have a serious, or even life-threatening, medical condition. I kept hearing how health care is like other goods, such as cell phone service. The free market will bring costs down, assuring broad access, if it is allowed to work.
No, this won't happen. Health care experts point out that you won't die if you don't have a cellphone. You will if you don't have necessary medical care.
Every other economically advanced country has a universal health care system. Those other countries spend a heck of a lot less on health care and have better health outcomes, while assuring that everyone has access to necessary care.
The United States is the least compassionate. We allow those 26,000 people to die prematurely each year because of a lack of health care. Sickening. As is the mindless bleating of Mitt Romney and his fellow hard-hearted GOP'ers with all their promises to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
Here's part of what that would mean -- 10 benefits Americans have now under the Affordable Care Act, but would lose if the uncompassionate conservatives got their way.
(1) No lifetime coverage limits on health insurance
(2) No annual caps on health care coverage
(3) Children with pre-existing conditions can get insurance already
(4) In 2014, insurors have to cover everybody with pre-existing conditions
(5) Insurance companies can't drop you if you get sick
(6) You can stay on your parents' insurance until you're 26
(7) Seniors get $250 towards closing the "doughnut hole" in prescription drug coverage
(8) No more co-pays for preventative services in Medicare
(9) Small businesses get big tax credits for offering health insurance to their workers
(10) Insurers with high administrative costs have to offer rebates to their customers
This sounds good, doesn't it? Well, that's what your not-so-Grand Old Party wants to take away from you. Think about it when you vote in November.