We are in dire need of a national deep breath.
A week ago, the U.S. House of Representatives, in unrepresentative fashion, pushed through a health-care bill that most Americans said they didn’t want. Since then, there have been a handful of death threats and a report of a racial slur being used toward Rep. John Lewis of Atlanta at a rally against the bill in Washington.
The latter incidents have fueled efforts to brand ObamaCare opponents as either extremists or, in the words of Rep. James Clyburn (D, S.C.), people “aiding and abetting…terrorism.”
Breathe. Just breathe.
Six months ago, in this space, I warned against our rising incivility and observed that, in the health-care debate, we were only adding to our divisiveness.
How quaint those fears seem in hindsight. If only we’d stopped at “divisiveness.”
At this point, I’m sure, many readers are thinking one of the following things:
1. We are so divided because Democrats decided to shove an unconstitutional mess down our throats; or
2. We are so divided because Republicans decided to fight the bill by branding it the onset of tyranny.
I sympathize with the first point, but I acknowledge the second one.
Make no mistake, I believe the Democrats’ health bill was the wrong step for America to take. The aim of ensuring that more people have access to health care is laudable. But the methods to which we are now committed are wrong-headed, unaffordable and, yes, represent a socialization of health care. There’s no other way to put it.
All that said, the history of our country is one of defeating long odds. And while the passage of this bill means we face longer odds than before in truly fixing what’s wrong with our health-care system, the task is not impossible.
When the left’s approach inevitably fails — and fail it will, for the story of socialized health insurance is the journey toward insolvency — another opportunity to fix health care will beckon. It may come sooner than later. But we Americans who wanted a solution that lessened, not enhanced, Washington’s role in health care will have another chance. We will not miss it next time.
In the meantime, making death threats or using various epithets toward members of Congress damages our cause. We cannot hesitate to tell those who do these things that they are not welcome in our movement, and take any steps necessary to dissociate ourselves from them.
But it doesn’t end there, or with us.
It is utterly irresponsible, false and dangerous to label the entire opposition to ObamaCare as racist or extremist based on the actions of a few. Even if a thousand people have carried objectionable signs, said distasteful things or threatened violence, we are talking about a fraction of a fraction of the tens of millions of people who opposed this bill, in silence or in voice.
Those who would slur this entire group are also at fault.
Passions will remain, but tensions must ease. Oppose this law in the American way.
But the pro-Obama factions must also realize that their screeds against the “teabaggers” needlessly provoke the people on the fringe as well as those closer to the mainstream.
There is enough upheaval going on in this country. Cooler heads need to prevail.
NOTE: I won’t be able to monitor comments very frequently this weekend, so comments will go through moderation and I’ll post them as I’m able. Thanks.