It's not obstructionist Republicans or rabid Town Hallers or antediluvian trilobites at Fox News or rapacious insurance operatives or the nasty, brutish and short electorate. Hopealicious "universal health care" became tedious "health insurance reform" because of stupid, spineless, craven Democrats. While Senator Harry "Ambien" Reid's latest public option gambit is encouraging, never underestimate the capacity of Democrats to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Give them time: we may still get health care reform that's bad policy and bad politics. The Democratic Party gave me Stockholm Syndrome, which my insurance doesn't cover.
Democrats don't understand that Republicans are different from them. Democrats want to be liked, while Republicans want to feast on the still-beating hearts of their foes' children. I don't expect Democrats to stand to the left of Ho Chi Minh, but to be politically competent.
Remember how single payer was off the table because it wasn't "politically viable"? How single payer would provoke a losing fight over socialized medicine? Now all those strategic geniuses in the Democratic Party and liberal insider organizations who lectured us about political viability desperately cling to the dregs of Rube Goldberg bills, pullies and all. "Don't make the perfect the enemy of the good," became "don't make the perfect the enemy of the good, which should not be the enemy of the still expensive and probably not helpful."
Yet everyone who crooned the viability blues still has a job. I got fired from a bagel shop for being $20 short on the cash register. Looking at Washington, I clearly didn't aim high enough--I should have stolen lox. How massively, historically inept can someone in Washington get before they have to eat cat food and top ramen forevermore? Apparently squandering billions of dollars and letting tens of thousands of Americans die and go bankrupt is totally fine. Perhaps you have to usher in the apocalypse personally and rolf bin Laden under the Capitol rotunda. Must be nice to live without consequences.
Democratic electoral sweeps should mean the Pelosizzle hammer comes down! Instead, the most powerful Americans are Blue Dogs. They should be called Blue Ball Democrats, because they're preventing the consummation of my health care reform. Admittedly, I have urban coastal myopia, but why is my health care being gerrymandered by Senators from Montana, Arkansas, and North Dakota? Of course they're not going to lead the charge to throw insurance execs out the window--they already have to ride a tractor seventeen hours to see a doctor, so why complicate things? Meanwhile, in California, we have millions of people infecting each other with flesh-eating strep and posting online personals that say: "loves cooking, walks on the beach, seeks mate with $500 deductible." California will get either the rapture or an actual health care system.
No wonder the right has been winning the discourse war with death panels, abortion, illegal immigrants, and socialism. "Individual mandate, postulated cost-savings through electronic medical records, and co-ops" don't make good bumper stickers or chants. Progressives need a catchy all-American slogan: MEGACARE. People would line up for it. Give out vaccines, forties, and tattoos. People are getting health care in animal stalls, so why not tailgate parties?
The epic blunder of the Democrats was to focus on insurance. Nobody likes insurance. I'd be thrilled to lose my insurance, just let me get the care I need. Sentences that have never been uttered in the USA: "A cubicle-drone in an office park sent me the sweetest claim denial letter." "United Health Care has the prettiest Explanation of Benefits." We hear people are worried about "losing what they have," but the key word is "what." What is doctors, hospitals, and nurses. Instead, we'll get an insurance plan that only covers echinacea and a bike helmet.
Insurance companies defy the logic of capitalism itself. My rudimentary understanding is that in capitalism, you pay for something, and then you get it. Only insurance companies take your money but don't give you what you paid for. Imagine going to a travel agent and buying a plane ticket to Paris only to be sent to Houston. Imagine making a reservation at a Michelin-starred restaurant and expecting lemongrass bison tenderloin but getting a Fuddruckers burger instead. So why won't the Democrats throw the bums out?
Nato Green is a San Francisco-based comedian, who will perform in Laughter Against the Machine with W. Kamau Bell and Hari Kondabolu on December 30 & 31 at San Francisco's Phoenix Theater.