Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Health Care

I just read an article about Ted Kennedy's youngest son leaving a note on his grave: 'Dad, the unfinished business is done.'

It is done, indeed.

Today the Health Care reform bill that has been the cause of so much drama in our fair land was signed into law.

Which is inevitably followed by the question (at least, in conversation): What do you think?

This has been an awkward subject for me to tackle. My parents are both Republicans, as are my older brother and his wife. My younger brother is... I don't know what he is, but if I had to guess I'd say Independent. My parents have always been very clear that we should vote our conscience and not register as one thing or another just because that's what they are. So, my voter registration card states that I'm a Democrat. While I'd love to go on a whole other rabbit trail about how I wish the U.S. wasn't a two-party system and how it would do us some good to have a serious third party contender at the next elections, I'll save that for another day. The fact is, I looked at the platforms as they're laid out by various parties, and I felt like most of my beliefs aligned with the Democratic views. Most, not all. I'm anti-abortion, for example. But when it comes to other issues: education, taxes, the environment, and marriage equality, to name just a few, I find myself leaning in a different direction than most of the Republican views.

My parents know none of this. They don't know that I voted for Barack Obama in the last presidential elections. And they have no idea that I'm thrilled to pieces about this bill passing. That I think it will actually do some good and is a step in the right direction (not perfect, but a start). They speak about it as if it is the end of the world. As if the bad guys have won and we're all doomed.

I don't want this to be so political, but this whole issue has just made me realize how much of myself I feel like I have to hide from people I care about. I self-censor myself on so many occasions: in conversation, on facebook and twitter. I feel like I might offend someone by saying something I really believe to be true. So rather than putting it out there and risking having a confrontation with someone, I decide to keep it to myself.

Very few people, if anyone really, ever read this blog unless I link to it from somewhere else. In that sense, I feel safer. This feels private. Anyone could find it, really, but in all likelihood they won't. It's like being at a party and finding a deserted room just down the hallway a bit, away from all the noise.

Here's what I think: I don't know enough about this bill to know the nitty-gritty facts. I know people who are doctors who hate it and will probably retire early from medicine because of it, which scares me a little. What's upsetting them so much? I like the idea that insurance companies can no longer amp up prices sky high for people with pre-existing conditions. I like the idea that medicines will be available at cheaper rates to those who need them. There are more things I like, but I'll leave it at that for now. Basically, I like the idea that people who need help will be taken care of and not turned away because insurance companies have found loopholes that allow them to profit from someone else's misfortune. The movie 'Sicko' really influenced my thinking about some of this stuff. It was advocating a total overhaul, which I think would be a bit extreme, but gradual steps in the right direction (like the one made today) are a better approach, I think.

As for self-censoring, I really don't know what to do about that. I do it on non-political things too. Like, I don't curse on there because I know it might offend people. But this goes deeper than cursing. I hate the idea that I'm censoring myself on an ideological level. I think that might need to change.

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