socialism and racism

One of my favorite moments from last year’s presidential campaign was when Former Secretary of State Colin Powell endorsed Barack Obama. Not because I particularly cared who Mr. Powell thought we should vote for, and not because I agree with the man or thought his endorsement, that late in the game, was really going to change anything. What I liked about that moment was what he had to say about the Tin-Foil Hat Brigade’s claims that Mr. Obama was a Muslim. To which Mr. Powell said, “So what?” “Is there something wrong with some seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president?”

And I’ve been having the same reaction lately in this health care debate as the Tin-Foil Hat Brigade marches to town halls to scream about Pres. Obama being a socialist. I had that same reaction, thinking to myself, if Pres. Obama’s “socialism” is little more than the type of health care enjoyed by most of Northern Europe and Canada, who cares?

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compassionate health care

Ethan Nichtern wrote a compelling, thoughtful, and all-around lovely post over on the Huffington Post about the current health care debate, Whole Foods, and (as is his m.o.) interdependence. It reminded me of some political commentator I read in the paper the other week. (Can’t recall now where or who; you’ll just have to take my word for it.) He mentioned that one of the reasons that the Democrats and Pres. Obama may be loosing the fight over health care is that they’re not telling people “what’s in it for them”; that people are worried about losing coverage they already have and can’t see what benefit they have in covering the millions of uninsured people in this country.

I don’t know the merits of this claim. That is, I don’t know if that’s really true or not, that health care reform is going to fail because of the “message” of the DNC and its spin doctors. It seems pretty obvious to me that if health care fails it will be because the Tin Foil Hat Brigade was loud enough to scare anyone in Congress who might have stood their ground into giving up on the whole thing, as if those in the Tin Foil Hat Brigade are the only ones whose votes matter. But that’s beside the point.