Monday, August 31, 2009

We Fight For the Teabaggers, Too!

Across the street from my post office was an old man, seated in a lawn chair with a "No Rationing!" sign, two old ladies with similar signs, and a middle-aged guy with a "No Communism!" sign.

I asked the old man respectfully what he wanted; sir, are are you worried about the way private health insurance rations health care? He said he didn't want the government to running health care. I asked if he was on Medicare, and he said yes but he just didn't want the government to run health care. I asked if that meant he wanted to give up his Medicare. He stared ahead stonilet ... liars?

It was the "dog" remark ... intended as a childish insult .dies had obviously had some skin disease on her face. She shouted at me proudly that she had won every appeal with her insurance company, but you couldn't appeal government health care! I wated to ask if she'd ever heard of an appeals court; I wanted to ask why she had to go through an appeals process to get healed, how long she had to wait for the process to complete before she got care, or whether the scarring on her face had been caused because of the delays she'd experienced while fighting the insurance company in an ultimately successful appeal. However, some questions, however fair, cannot be asked, out of decency. Instead, I asked, What about people who can't get insurance? You can always get insurance, she said. What if you're poor or unemployed? Should the poor just die? She had no answer; she knew she was speaking untruths, and she was unwilling to say, yes, the poor should just die.

The other old lady informed me everyone could get health care just by going to a hospital. I asked about cancer and diabetes; were they treated in ERs? No, she said, of course not. There were always charities to pay for that. No-one, she said, was denied health care. Even the elderly poor I asked? She didn't reply; how could she? She was lying, and she knew it.

The ladies started chanting "Freedom! Freedom!". The middle-aged man (who was obviously their Commissar) said, "Let's go. Don't pay attention to a dog barking," and the ladies went off, abandoning the immobile old man to protest alone, against the very system that was keeping him alive.

These were elders, respectable people, who you would instinctly trust to be good and honest citizens. No doubt, they felt that they were and nothing anyone can say would change their feeling about that - not even pointing out that they were saying things they knew to be untrue. There was no rational discussion possible because they could not admit simple facts; it was entirely an emotional discussion, comparable to debating the Yankees vs. the Red Sox, or Miller vs. Miller Lite. What was going on?

Why were elderly, respectable people who under other circumstances be called nothing but sweet ... liars?

It was the "dog" remark ... intended as a childish insult ... that gave me enlightenment. There was no more reasoning going on here than when a dog barks. It was all emotion, to them.

They were not lying, because they felt they were right. The mere words didn't matter; they were right and they were together, and they could not bear any mere facts that would split them apart. And for me to hit them harder and harder with the facts accomplished nothing except feed my own desire to be right, at the expense of being effective.

For example, the old man was in a spot. I was someone who drifted into his life for a moment, and then would be gone. OTOH, the old ladies were his ride home. How could he possibly agree with me? How could he dispassionately consider my questions? Should he displease me, or displease the people he'd known for decades? Would I be his companion? Would I give him a ride home?

On an emotional level, there was no choice. How could he possibly admit that he owed the continuance of his life to a government that he hated, and come into conflict with his friends who hate their government just as they hate the Yankees?

What To Do?
Identifying a problem is nice, but a solution is better!

If the emotional argument is all that matters, let us make one thing very clear: "We fight for health care for Teabaggers too!"

Teabaggers don't have to be alone. We're on their side, fighting so they won't have to die for lack of health care.

We're fighting so their grandchildren will not face death if they happen to be very sick.

We are friends of the teabaggers, even if they don't want us - in fact, ESPECIALLY if they don't want us. It is easy to befriend those who agree with us; the victory is in befriending those who oppose us.

This solution has many advantages. It may defuse the emotional issues; it may be comforting.

But most of all, it has the very great advantage of being true.

We fight for the Teabaggers, along with all of us.

UPDATE: Sinfest made much the same comment on Friday (see top of post)

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