The Ethics of Health Care Reform
After the passage of the health care bill, the far right has been acting abominably, from the Tea Party protests to the threatening phone calls to government officials like Betsy Marky. By comparison, we’ve been led to believe that the Democrats are perfect angels, but they get away with more than they should just by virtue of being less unreasonable than the Republicans.
“The anti-Obama folks believe the president is imposing a massive federal presence that will erode personal freedoms," wrote Bill O'Reilly as a guest writer for the *Ventura County Star* website. "The pro-Obama crew supports huge federal apparatus to impose 'social justice,' believing that is the government's moral responsibility." Both sides are trying to claim the moral high ground to make people align themselves with their side of the argument.
"The battle lines are clearly drawn: individual freedom versus federal power. Take your pick," continues O'Reilly, encapsulating the far right's fear.
The liberal side sounds just as dire and dramatic, but like a completely different conversation. “As a matter of human decency and social justice, extending access to healthcare to (nearly) all Americans was long overdue," wrote one blogger on the *New York Times* website. Instead of the two parties debating the legislation, the focus shifts to whose morals are more righteous.
But Democrats should be careful to not immediately dismiss Republicans' potentially valid arguments as unethical. If they do, they risk their rhetoric becoming as disparaging as Glenn Beck's ridiculous claim that Obama has a "deep-seated hatred for white people.” It is important to differentiate between the radical right that consistently captures media attention and the moderate conservatives with compelling new perspectives on today's most pressing political issues.
“Palin and the Tea Party are the worst thing that has happened to the Republican Party in decades,” said an anonymous Republican party strategist on the *The National* newspaper website. “I worry they will destroy us.”
The Republicans’ audacious tactics have taken the media spotlight, but that doesn’t mean that Democrats are any less scheming. Republicans may be spouting racist terms and bringing guns to town hall meetings, but having your morality questioned can be just as scary as conservative Republicans touting a swastika emblazoned banner outside of a pro-health-care rally.
I believe health care is a fundamental human right, because everyone deserves to be healthy, but if health care reform really has become a question of morality, the people leading the discussion on both sides are far from an ethical standard I'm prepared to adhere to.
I'd hoped we'd rise above by conscientiously participating in civil discourse with each other. Instead we're still blind to one another's differing opinions and perspectives, because we’re too busy debating who has the highest ethical standards, when we should be discussing the actual legislation. This bill affects everyone in this country—liberal, conservative, 80 years old, eight months old, suburban middle class families, and the single mother living in a trailer park. The most moral thing we can do is consider each other and remember for whom it was written: not for ideals, but for people.