Feelings About Sanity

Like just about everyone else, I’m finding it hard to resist commenting on healthcare reform, the passing of which is causing hysteria among certain segments of the population. For the sake of brevity, I’ll call them the idiots, the willfully ignorant, the fundamentalists.

I’m not a huge fan of this legislation. I fear that rather than the beginning of reform, as the spin would have it, this tepid attempt to bring a dose of sanity to our insane system of proving basic healthcare to the citizenry will be the end. Despite what many pundits would have you believe, it’s not a law of political physics that social reform continually progresses. We’ve seen varying degrees, some severe, of rollback on affirmative action, abortion rights, privacy rights, environmental regulations, corporate oversight (deregulation — from Wall Street to transportation – has been a disaster), progressive taxation, social safety nets…etc., over the past 30 years. And there’s nothing to say healthcare reform will continue progressing to its logical and rational conclusion, one that includes a public option.

Still, though, there are many much-needed reforms in this legislation and as a bit of fairly sane policy in a fairly insane time, it’s a minor miracle. Perhaps even signaling the shift, or change, we hoped for when we elected Obama. It reminds me of the old Winston Churchill line that Americans will always do the right thing — after they’ve exhausted every other possibility.

I hope we can keep turning towards the right thing, though I can’t help but believe the frothing mobs we see threatening violence and expressing their inchoate, ugly anger at the brave dems (yes, seeing what’s out there, and knowing where their bread is buttered, I have to call them brave) who voted for the measure in increasingly frightening ways, will not go quietly back into their holes. They are no aberration, they are the result of 30 years of religious right fundamentalism that’s been fertilized by the dying educational system in this country that they’ve been choking to death. They inhale toxic pedagogy and exhale the absolute, boxed up certainty of dogma. They can’t be persuaded that the world isn’t flat, even as ships continue to sail around it. They believe first and think later, if at all.

Reason over doctrine, reality over magical thinking, is the change we chose when a relatively small majority, considering the frightening alternative, chose Obama. This is indeed a culture war and though this is one small victory, it’s far from over.

It’s no coincidence conservative fundamentalists (with Reagan as their icon) started dismantling quality public education after the mid-century, post-GI Bill progressive era it fueled. For them, enlightenment is the biggest enemy and that’s what education brings.