Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Only Thing We Have to Fear Is...

Everyone in politics lies, but you have to admit, Republicans seem to have an easier time of it. 

It's easy to see why, when you think about it.

Look at this small sample of questionable right wing utterances I've kept track of since last year's political season: Obama is a socialist; Obama will convert the government into a dictatorship; Obama is going to take away your guns; Obama wasn't actually born here, so he might be a terrorist; Sonia Sotomayor hates white people, gay marriage will destroy America.

Normally, I would include a phony exaggeration in that list for humorous effect, but I can't come up with one that outdoes reality.

The latest volley of prevarication relates to health care: Obama wants to save money by letting people die; people routinely kick the bucket waiting for emergency life-saving surgeries in countries with socialized medicine; 300,000 additional breast cancer patients would have died last year under Obama's plan, including your mother; and (my personal favorite) Obama's system could track party enrollment in order to be able to deny health coverage to Republicans.


I can't retort any better than this quote from The Onion: "It's appalling that political affiliation would be used to determine eligibility for health coverage. That's what race and socioeconomic status are for."


Look. The government already runs health care for millions of Americans: the very poor, the very old, and the very wounded in battle. You rarely hear people in the first two categories complain about their coverage; for some reason, we haven't figured out how to take care of veterans quite as well. I'm sure we'll get around to it once we make sure we have a few more of them around.

Meanwhile, 82% of Canadians think their health care system is better than ours, according to the Associated Press. They spend nearly half as much as we do, per capita, but live an average of three years longer.

(Not that any of the proposals in congress even remotely resemble what Canada has, anyway. It's looking more and more like we won't even see a public option.) 

Knowing all that, it's hard to believe a campaign of fear would gain much traction in the health care debate. But the right has a well-conditioned audience.

If you observe the pattern, you'd have to conclude that the people who are likely to believe Republicans are a bunch of nervous ninnies who still have to sleep with a night light, perhaps in fear that there is a homosexual lurking nearby, just waiting for it to be dark enough to spread his gayness on your weaponry so it won't work properly when the hippies show up to try to make you stop worshipping Jesus.

Whereas left-wing lies tend to consist of scattered, disorganized exaggerations and over-generalizations. There's no system to it, which makes it hard to generate the same kind of loyal following the conservatives have with their bed-wetting wimps.

Scare tactics play right into conservative ideology, which emphasizes protection and preservation over progress. That's why old people are disproportionately Republican. They're not known for their reckless bungee-jumping or rights-giving, and "change" is a concept they rarely relish, unless it refers to "change back to the way things were in the 1950s."

So take heart, fellow liberals.  Once Obama gets rid of all the geriatrics with his new health care plan, we'll be even more invincible.

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