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Todd Bouldin
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You knew that I would have to comment  I am really grateful for your entry, and if I could divorce your comments from the current health care reform effort, I would have no disagreements with it at all. I think all of us regardless of party or stance dislike these kinds of debates and the resort to these procedures. As a person who cares foremost for the preservation of our democratic system of government over the accomplishment of any policy objective, I am saddened by the seeming effort to resort to these tactics. I also dislike the hypocrisy of it, on both sides. Speaker Pelosi should not use a protocol that she formerly opposed, but Republicans also should not be screaming to high heaven because the Democrats want to use the very same procedure they used to give tax cuts to wealthy people so that we can provide health care to more of the American population. What really saddens me about the trust issue is that I wonder if we have gone beyond a point of no return. I seriously think we could be in the last years of the greatness of our republic if we do not correct the cynicism and distrust, address the situations that are causing it, and solve some looming and large problems. If we cannot treat each other with respect and cooperate on something as important as the health care of our citizens, how are we going to resolve entitlement reform, immigration and Social Security? Something has to change. I am not sure what, or who, but somehow our institutions and leaders must find a way to earn back the trust. I know you may disagree, but I do not think that is possible as long as we entertain ourselves with 24 hour cable news shows that feed the distrust and heighten the drama. I know I am in a minority, but I really don’t think that the problem is a lack of leadership as much as ignorance, apathy and unfair criticisms of the American people. We do not have a direct democracy – California does, and it’s an utter failure. We have a representative government whose leaders are called upon to make choices for us, and sometimes, according to Madison in Federalist Papers #10, decisions that are right for us but which the majority does not support. Most of the public servants I know make very tough decisions every day, and try sincerely to lead. But with the constant yelling and screaming on television and radio, and the over dramatization of issues, it’s hard to do. Besides this, if people can’t trust Obama, I am not sure who it’s going to be. He’s squeaky clean, has had no accusations of ethical lapses, and tries doubly hard to listen and compromise with his opponents. That seems to me to be the kind of leader who could help us with our trust issues, but some of us are hell bent on destroying him because we disagree with him. The challenge for all of us, and for me, is to learn to trust leaders that we do not agree with – just as in church too. Sometimes we just have to trust they are doing what’s right for us. I honestly gave Bush the benefit of the doubt on the war in Iraq because I trusted he knew things we did not – I wish my friends on the other side of the aisle would give Obama the same gift. As to this health care situation – Once trust has been eroded in any situation, we usually resort to survival. I think that’s what you are seeing here, Tim. The situation for the GOP nationally is not good because of demographics, and they know that their only hope for recovering from 2008 is to ensure that Obama is perceived a s a failure. They have a vested interest in obstructing everything he does. I hate that, but I understand it. It’s important for my GOP friends to understand that me and many of my Democratic friends have fought for over a decade for some kind of health care reform, and some of my older progressive friends have fought for it since Roosevelt and Truman. My conservative friends need to understand that a) this is very important to us, just as abortion or a tax cut might be important to the Right, and b) we’re tired of fighting monied interests who always are going to have the upper hand on this. This situation could have been very different. On many occasions, Republicans have been invited to the negotiation table on health care. Over 147 Republican amendments are included in this bill. And yes, even pilot projects for tort reform and selling insurance across state lines are included. There is no public option of any kind. Yet, it doesn’t seem to matter to my conservative friends who are determined to defeat this. Speaking for me, and for my party, I absolutely refuse to let that kind of politics end a very worthy effort to provide health care to millions, to provide more affordable insurance for those who can’t afford it, and to end discriminatory insurance practices. I don’t like it at all, but I also despise the kind of partisanship and selfishness that led to this situation. So here’s my response: Cram it down. If health care insurance companies are going to spend millions to convince people to vote against their own interests, then I’m pretty determined that they are not going to win. That’s what elections are for, and we will pay in the fall if we are wrong. Where were the concerns about reconciliation when the Congress used it to pass the Bush tax cuts, resulting in $1 trillion of our current debt. They were totally unpaid for, and exceeds the cost of this health care bill over ten years. Is our problem really reconciliation, or that we just disagree? Seems like a fair question to me if we weren't raising these concerns before now. Once we are past this bill, I hope that Obama and our leaders will find a way to restore trust. But if I were in their shoes, I wouldn’t know how to do it. Until our people are convinced that we have more to gain by hoping and trusting, than in complaining and criticizing, no leader can restore our trust and no institution can earn it. We evidently need a crisis to get us to put away the childishness I’ve observed these few months. The sad news is that we do have a crisis – several of them – and we are wasting time in silly games while Rome burns. I would take great delight in being part of an effort in our churches or with friends to restore that trust. But it will never be restored if we have to insist that our own side wins, and that the other side is not worthy of governing. Perhaps we need Stephen Covey to lead us in a national initiative on trust.
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Mar 18, 2010