There is no doubt that we are a country divided. I have blogged for three years about the fact that Americans are seeking compromise from our leaders. We want solutions from Congress. No one ever expected the Supreme Court to be the place where laws get negotiated. But that is where we are today. Who needs Judge Judy when we have Judges Alito and Ginsburg? (Note to Boomers: Remember the days when no one knew the names of Supreme Court Justices because they rose above it all?) I don’t know if it is the advent of a 24 hour news cycle or our culture’s increasing fascination with celebrities but now the Supreme Court Justices are household names and you can guess the way a ruling is going to go based on gender.
It isn’t just a Blue versus Red divide troubling this country right now. It’s some fundamentalist Christians in the Republican Party versus everyone else. It’s Male versus Female. Wait, am I leaving anyone out? Because that would be un-American. At least it would have been un-American, not too long ago. Remember those days, when we could expect to have our voices represented in the Capitol, when honoring and working out our differences is what made us uniquely American?
I had lunch the other day with someone who has spent a lot of blood, sweat and maybe even tears, lobbying on behalf of Planned Parenthood. We talked about the fact that she is Hindu and believes that life begins at first breath. It really gave me pause. Honestly, it never occurred to me that in this evolving mosaic of nationalities and religion that our country is becoming, a voice like this had been eclipsed so completely. It was just another sign that the religious diversity this country was founded on has been moved to the back burner by a party that voted out Eric Cantor and doesn’t have a voice like my friend’s to speak of.
The news right now is that Obamacare is surely heading back to the Supreme Court. Yesterday, two different courts offered two diametrically opposed rulings on whether the Feds could offer tax credits for subsidies used to purchase health insurance in states that have refused to set up exchanges. I’m all for states’ rights but let’s acknowledge that the rulings could kick us back to Square One. We will once again be a country where some people have access to insurance and others don’t. In this case, it looks like those in Blue states will get it and those in Red states won’t. The question today is can we break the cycle of partisanship and craft compromise going forward as nation? Or should we just agree to disagree and each back into our own corners … or states? Is someone who can’t afford insurance and can’t get a subsidy going to have to move to a state where they can?
If the Republicans have been waiting to use opposition to Obamacare as a rallying cry to reclaim Washington, they need to be aware that Americans are getting tired of all the Sturm und Drang or High Court High Drama. There is movement on both sides towards universal access, empowering small businesses to pool together to increase their purchasing power and even talk of Medicaid expansion among some Republicans. So, why didn’t these issues get legislated in the four years since the Supreme Court ruled Obamacare is legal? Why is it up to the Supreme Court to pick through the legislation piecemeal and decide what the law will eventually look like? It isn’t. I am concerned, even a little disgusted, at all the money and time tied up in the fight when both sides seemed to have acknowledged the time for health care reform has arrived. It actually arrived four years ago.