Monday, August 17, 2009

#147 Health-Care Reform and the Zeitgeist

The time is now. It's been 70 years now for Social Security, 40 years for Medicare (and not so coincidentally the Civil Rights Act), and almost 20 years since the Clintons floated their universal health care plan. But sunk in Congress, alas. I can see some still-living Congressfolk who voted against it having few qualms about boasting to their grandchildren,"We put a stop to socialized medicine!" But can those in Congress today claim the same bragging rights later if some form of health-care-for-all fails to pass now? Not. "Grandchild, I helped keep Big-Med in the money!" No more so than some nonagenarian ex-legislator would brag about voting against the Civil Rights Act. (Wait: forgot about my old senator, Strom Thurmond, who was personally able to vote against every incarnation of civil-rights legislation over his 150 years in Congress. His only "apology" for all that was to father a child with a black woman during his segregationist days!--only posthumously revealed.)

No excuse to drop the ball on health care this time. The Zeitgeist has moved on, and obstructionist Congresspeople must take warning of being on the wrong side of history, not to mention the better angels of our nature. The originally Hegelian idea of the "time-ghost" or Spirit of the Age (zeit is cognate with our "tide"= time) is a useful concept, without buying into the rest of that philosopher's barmy notions. It's a kind of "collective intelligence" or wisdom of the times, relating to moral, social and political issues. Moreover, the concept has taken on an almost palpable existence with the advent of cyberspace. A clear indicator of Zeitgeist, I believe, is SATIRE--whatever is being lampooned and pilloried--to popular acclaim--just ain't in the mainstream consensus. (See my other blog for "musings" on Stewart and Colbert, for example.) And it seems to me that the Bush/Cheney days of War and Waste and Greed--indeed the last decade or two of money-happy, selfish America ... are long past. We're on the cusp of a renewed spirit of moral and social responsibility in this country, I believe.

In other words, mainstream America is ready for health-care reform--70% say so. Half of those want Public Option, and the other half as well, really, but don't know it (remember once again the deluded cracker from S.C.--"Keep your gov't hands off my Medicare"), because they are distracted by the voodoo scare tactics of the far-right and the machinations of Big-Med. This is why it's so very important for our elected representatives--some of whom, I'll admit, have already been bought-off--to rise above the fray and make enlightened choices and unselfish votes. To get in tune with the Zeitgeist, and on the right side of history. To do the right thing.

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