“What Kind Of World Do These People Live In?”

Senate Majority Leader  Harry Reid

“When I think of the Republican Party, I don’t think of principled conservative legislators who are men and women of vision strategy. I think of ideologues who are prepared to wreck things to get their way. They have confused prudence — the queen of virtues, and the cardinal virtue of conservative politics — with weakness. I know I’m very much a minority among conservatives in this, but the behavior of Congressional Republicans pushed me out of the party two years ago, even though I almost always vote Republican, or withhold my vote.

I am not a liberal, and do not want to vote for liberals, especially on social policy. But I told a Louisiana conservative friend the other day that the Congressional Republicans are making me consider the previously unthinkable: throwing my vote away by voting for a Democrat in the special election next month to replace my GOP congressman, who just resigned to take another job. The GOP candidates in this local race are hot and heavy to overthrow Obamacare. I think about how poor this district is — 26 percent of the district lives in poverty, making it one of the poorest Congressional districts in America — and how badly we need jobs and economic growth, and I think: What kind of world do these people live in?” – Rod Dreher.

You can tell I’m in the same camp, although I gave up completely on the GOP a decade ago as I saw its craven acquiescence to an imperial presidency, its love of massive, unfunded spending, its dogged support of wars of doomed nation-building, and its Christianist loathing of almost anything vibrant in modernity. But these past few days, by pure accident, I’ve thought about them in a slightly new perspective. I’ve been in Washington, DC, for a bunch of minor medical procedures: my thrice-yearly testosterone implant; my flu shot; a booster pneumonia shot; an HPV vaccine; an impending colonoscopy; an HIV blood test; and last, but by no means least, a repair of an umbilical hernia that has had me immobile since Friday. My compromised immune system requires constant check-ups, and the Dish now pays for my COBRA insurance – which will soon have to be traded in for Obamacare because my options are running out.

A word to Republicans: why would you want to deny someone these basic forms of healthcare? Or force them into bankruptcy because of them?

I could struggle on for a while without them and without my HIV meds. But sooner or later, I’d start running out of money, probably get a bad case of pneumonia, or an uptick in likelihood of cancer if my HIV breaks out again, or a hernia operation that was urgent rather than precautionary, or a debilitating bout of flu likely to make my asthma-ridden lungs even weaker in the future. This is the fragile reality I live in as a spectacularly privileged, if immuno-suppressed inhabitant of one of the most advanced societies on earth. But take any of it away and my well-being and basic health begin to fray.

Are you, Republicans, prepared to say that the countless working Americans who cannot now afford any of this should carry on without it indefinitely? People only have one life, you know. It can erode pretty quickly. On what moral grounds do you consign people to this fate when it is currently unnecessary?

I understand the important arguments about cost control, and any number of arguments about how to construct a system like this. I think I’ve heard them now for close to three decades – and we’ve all benefited from the arguments. But these needs are about as real as any can be. And our system has passed a remedy of sorts. It will need adjustment, reform, cost-cutting, and constructive criticism to make it work as well as it might. But seriously, after all we’ve gone through, you’re prepared to bring our entire system of government to a halt in order to prevent sick people from getting access to this kind of treatment?

What hallucinating, self-serving monsters have you become?

(Photo: Conservative Senator Mike Lee (R-UT), Senator Ted Cruz’s partner on defunding Obamacare, after the Senate voted to amend the House’s spending bill by removing language defunding the Affordable Care Act and voted to fund the government at a $986 billion annual level through Nov. 15, on September 27, 2013. By Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images.)