Man, I really want to talk about mice, you guys, but I keep getting distracted. And the last few days the distraction has been the SCOTUS decision on the Affordable Care Act, passed in 2010. Now that the decision has been released and that the Supreme Court is backing it, lots of people have been talking about it. And a few people have been asking me why I haven’t been.
So, despite my blog’s subtitle, I haven’t talked much about politics in public lately. So, just so you know, I am a HUGE political junkie. I was a poli-sci major, I follow political scorecards the way other people follow football stats. That’s a thing, right? Football stats? Anyway, I’m always updating my web browser for the latest updates on the great political game.
But that’s why I haven’t talked about it much lately. Most of the time, for me, it’s just a game. It’s a high stakes game, but that’s all it is. And the problem is, for a lot of people-a lot of them good people that I consider my friends- politics is religion. They blindly believe whatever their chosen political faction tells them to believe, and they refuse to consider that their side might be wrong. And every side is wrong, sometimes, no matter what. We’re only human, after all. We’re still just a bunch of fucking monkeys, no matter how well we might dress.
So when people ask me what political party I belong to, a lot of times I have to explain that, no, really, I’m totally an independent. I’m not much of a joiner, and I’m not going to officially endorse an entire group of people just to be labeled a color and a type of quadrupedal mammal. “But you’re such a lefty!” people say. Well, no, I’m not, I’m actually pretty moderate. The only reason people think that is because I don’t have a problem with gay marriage and I think abortion should absolutely be legal. I can make well-reasoned, moral arguments to support those opinions. But even if I was a crazed leftist, I wouldn’t just join up with the Democrats. Political parties change their “views” constantly, whenever it’s politically convenient. Strom Thurmond ran for president as a (sort of) Democrat and as an avowed segregationist back in 1948. He didn’t quit the Democratic Party until 1964, when the party had shifted to being too pro-“let’s not be racist dickwads anymore” for him. In the past decade, the Republican party has gone so far to the right that most moderate Republicans have realized they can’t win their own party's primaries.
Now, I don’t want to be one of those people who’s all “Our country’s more divided than ever!”. It’s not. American politics has always been brazenly un-civil, and I’m pretty sure we’ve never been as “divided” as we were in the first half of the 1860’s. It’s just that my own personal beliefs don’t fit on a bumper sticker. Politics is about compromise, at least in theory, and sometimes I have to compromise and endorse candidates only because they’re better than the alternative. I’m never going to agree with anyone all the time, and that’s fine with me. And while I enjoy the game, I try to never forget that that’s all it is.
So, the Supreme Court has backed the Affordable Care Act. And that is its name, not “Obamacare”, because calling the act “Obamacare” is just as stupid as calling the 2006 Massachusetts Health Care Insurance Reform Law “Romneycare”. How does that decision make me feel? Well, uh, okay I guess? I didn’t want them to repel it, but the world would have kept turning if they had repelled all or part of it. Just because I didn’t want them to repel it doesn’t mean I support every single line of it, but generally it’s easier to make reforms to laws than to throw them out completely.
There’s a reason I’m not too worked up about it: I didn’t read it. Nor did I read the SCOTUS’ 193 page opinion of the law. Believe it or not, I actually do have a day job, which is why I leave reading long-ass legal views to people who are professionally trained to do that sort of thing. I don’t want to be a politician, I’m much happier just writing about them. So when it comes to fact checking them, I generally rely on professional fact checkers. And most of them agree that while the Affordable Care Act has its problems, it’s doing more good than bad. It is not a government takeover of our healthcare system. It is not the largest tax in American History. There are no death panels. Please, everyone: Stop talking out of your asses.
And I realize that both sides are capable of saying absolutely bat shit crazy stupidity. In the Obama campaign’s “Life of Julia” whatchamacallit, the campaign claims:
Under President Obama: Julia enrolls in Medicare, helping her to afford preventive care and the prescription drugs she needs.
Under Mitt Romney: Medicare could end as we know it, leaving Julia with nothing but a voucher to buy insurance, which means $6,350 extra per year for a similar plan.That’s (mostly) bullshit too. But most people don’t bother to do any research at all. They just spout off whatever their preferred party tells them too. They have faith. But I (and the professional fact checkers) need more than that. So, I’m glad it wasn’t repealed, because repealing it (without a new plan on how to reform national healthcare in place already) would probably just have made things even worse. But I’ve got more important shit to do then freak out that “my side” scored a victory. They won’t always be “my side”, because I don’t have unending faith in them.
It’s not their fault. After all, we’re all only human. And I know I won’t get my way, people will still keep freaking out about things they don’t understand. I can't expect everyone to agree with me that well reasoned and researched discussion is the best way to improve the world. But I can dream, I suppose.