My most painful lesson from the health care fight
I got engaged in the fight to save America’s health care system early on. After attending the tax day protests, I was inspired to join tea party groups and we mobilized early. One such event was a counter-protest at Senator Corker’s office as we had heard word that some Move-On astroturf would be flooding Senate offices that day. A large group of us (outnumbering the pro O-care groups) descended onto Corker’s local office. What I learned in that visit has haunted me ever since.
The protests were not violent in any way. There were arguments between pro and anti health takeover forces, but no shouting. One of the tea party leaders was actually a formerly homeless man that had lived under a bridge at one point in his life. He knew hardship that most of us will never understand. The Move-On group was led by a local black pastor, but aside from him the group was (sorry MSNBC) entirely white. Many of them were older. Much was said and nothing was resolved, but we did each sign a petition stating our position on the subject. Ok, so what did I find disturbing?
It was a little frightening to hear the democrat talking points recited back at me like a little child reading a Bible verse without understanding the meaning. The eyes of the protestors were vacant. Their demands were great. Their arguments were flimsy. I sat there and asked myself, when did it become a virtue to demand something for free, and a vice to do as you choose with what you have earned? I chatted with one woman who suggested that I might prefer a government job to my private sector job. Her fondness of government bordered on creepy. I didn’t really believe that there were many true socialists out there or that there would be so many people who could so easily be deceived and controlled. It took me months to figure this out, but what bothered me most about this event was my reaction.
I felt uncomfortable standing up for my principles. It seemed mean to tell people they should find a way to take care of themselves, that empowering individuals to take care of their needs is better for society as a whole. I felt guilty for having what I have (which really isn’t a lot). On an intellectual level, I knew these people were wrong, but I felt selfish and mean-spirited for standing up for my right to have what I have. I couldn’t articulate the principle of why they were wrong. My voice was stifled by guilt.
President Obama and Vice-President Biden campaigned on saying well-off Americans (by their definition) should want to make sacrifices. How are they or any of these health care protestors to know what sacrifices I have already made? Sacrifice is not just measured in dollars.
People who look upon me and my husband with jealousy and spite will not know about the extra years I spent in school making no money to be able to get a higher salary. They will not know that my husband and I are in debt because of his step-father committing credit card fraud when he was just 18 and didn’t know he could protest the charges. They will not know that we kept putting off having kids because my husband went through some rounds of layoffs. They will not care about the fact that between student loans and my husband’s debt we will be in debt most of our working lives. These people will not consider that my husband and I both relocated away from our families to find higher paying jobs. Some of this is by choice obviously and some not, but when playing the “fairness card” most people look through a prism of their own design.
Highly successful people make sacrifices for their jobs and careers that others would not be willing to make. It may be very long work hours, high risk ventures, longer education or jobs requiring heavy travel loads. Most of us would not be willing to take on these jobs, but we need these people. They open up other opportunities for all of us, and they deserve to be rewarded for their sacrifices.
This country was made great by protecting the rights of the individual to keep the fruits of his/her labor. We are facing a force that seeks to confiscate wealth and trample our rights. It is “no time to go wobbly”, as Margaret Thatcher once said. We cannot allow those that want to enslave us to silence because we fear what people might think of us. We expect our politicians to stand up for our principles against the liberal media and we need to do the same in our lives. If we are to take back our country, we must first take back our voice.