Friday, November 13, 2009

Why I Voted No

I promised myself that I would make an effort not to blog anymore on the health care debacle, since I felt that what I had said already pretty much sufficed. However, a very progressive congressman, Dennis Kucinich, has voted "no" on the bill and it has made a little noise. This is a very good article by the congressman on why exactly he did vote no, and it echoed some of the reasons that I also felt this bill is a disgrace and a betrayal of everyone who initially supported (and possibly voted for) Obama on this issue.

The main point that Kucinich makes is that this is not the much needed health care reform that we were promised. Due to the intensive lobbying and dealmaking that takes place behind every bill, in addition to fears (whether genuine or not) by so-called "Blue Dog" Democrats of losing in the next election cycle to GOP candidates endorsed by the "teabaggers", the bill has been watered down pretty significantly from what was supposedly intended to be a real stab at reform. Kucinich feels that this bill is meaningless because we are still operating within the paradigm of the same system that we have always been under, one in which private insurance companies hold sway and make tremendous amounts of money for not providing care. Even worse, this bill would require at least 20 million Americans to buy insurance coverage from these same privatized HMOs. Again, as I've said, this is comparable to the ancient practice of "tribute", in which small towns would give money or other resources to the ruling kingdom. Only now, the "kingdoms" are these huge moneymaking health insurance corporations.

Another thing about Kucinich. I think he's one of the few good guys in Congress, and when I was active in politics, c0-directed the Suffolk leg of his campaign. Yeah, it was on the margins, but it was still a very good time and I met a lot of nice people. I also took shit from my family for backing a "loser", someone who had no chance at winning. And my family knew absolutely nothing about his positions, all they knew about him was his physical appearance and that he wasn't married. I got to see a good documentary this week called "Poliwood". It was advertised as a documentary about the intersection between politics and Hollywood, but it was about a good deal more than that. In one part, the director Barry Levinson (whose documentary this was) talks about television, and how while it has had some great benefits from a creative standpoint, it could also be looked upon as a very destructive force.

He put this in the context of how this has influenced our elections, and the choices we make between candidates. Anyone who has taken a class on politics or history might know of the debate between JFK and Richard Nixon in 1960, when both men were running for President. It was the first time in which the debates were televised. Anyone watching television saw that Nixon, just out of the hospital, looked pale, tired, and had stubble. As a result, according to polls, most people watching the debate on television thought that Kennedy had won. On the other hand, many people who listened to the debate on radio thought that Nixon had won. Anyway, Levinson talks about this, and also brings up other presidents throughout our history. Would John Adams have won an election if television had existed back in the late 18th century? How about the heavy William Taft? Or the disabled Franklin D. Roosevelt? Or, as the most striking example, Abraham Lincoln, the president who preserved the union? All of these presidents, along with others throughout history, weren't especially telegenic.

So, maybe in another time, Kucinich might have been looked on much differently than he is today, and his positions on issues would be given greater credence than his height or his face. However, this is now, and the effects of media on people like him, Ron Paul, and others, which is to drive them to the margins, has had an incredibly damaging effect on society, IMO.

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