Tuesday, September 01, 2009

It is not good or evil, maybe just different


America has been debating hysterically over health care reform, and for outsiders this does not make too much sense.

Many of them cannot understand why the government of America, the most powerful and the wealthiest country in the world, cannot take care of its people, especially since all other Western countries have some kind of public health service.

There are very few Turkish reporters in the United States who try to analyze this biggest issue of American domestic politics. It needs to be understood that health care reform has been on and off the agenda for almost a century and lacks black and white logic as we are so used to viewing different fights in Turkey. One of those Turkish reporters recently commented that the health care is Obama's war against all the evil forces in America. According to that, Obama's health war is not only against the lobbies (the lobbies that lobby for the current health system to go on as it is), this war is also against unawareness and snide opinions. And Obama takes all the political risks to do things that he believes in. Therefore, the suggestion is to foreign political circles that they also need to take note of his political courage.

I must say this is rather one-dimensional reporting; and moreover it does not reflect the real picture. It would take a few more articles to correct such reporting on this fight. Lectures must start from history, that is from the founding fathers' philosophical ideas of America and then maybe one can come to understand today's fight. This kind of reporting also contains factual mistakes, for it claims that most Americans are cynical about this overhaul, therefore Obama is not trying to make this change for political gain, or maybe he is against populism!

Actually, when Obama started to talk about this big change earlier this year, polls showed a great majority in favor of such fundamental change. And it is a very populist agenda, contrary to the claims, as one of the biggest campaign promises of Obama was in fact this reform.

I tend to read about the history of a country that I try to write about. The dynamics of the current health care debate are not only about the economy, nor that Obama is a nicer guy than his opponents and predecessors and the other party is so corrupt amid backdoor deals with the lobbying devils. It is also not only Republicans who stand against this reform these reports must have told, in today's American congress, in both houses, the Democrats have the majority to pass this legislation (For more info on health care discussions, please see my earlier articles). With some research, it can be also seen that the leaders of the Democrat party in the Congress, not Republicans, who chair various committees receive the biggest donations from various health sectors and lobbies for some time.

However, these reports do not explain, if this change is simply so great, why millions of Americans cannot make up their minds and remain confused. The reason for this big divide and confusion, it needs to be noted, is that in today's America there is also a fight between ideas that go as far back as the times of the founding fathers.

As Irving Kristol explains in the book "In Honor of the Bicentennial of the United States," (American Brands, Inc., 1975), "The American Revolution has not promised what the French Revolution did: to abolish of poverty." The leaders of the American Revolution established that every man should be able to pursue his or her own happiness and wealth, whatever happiness means. And as we have witnessed during the last century, this very credo of the American economic and social freedom brought an economic growth to these people, not the philosophy of some sort of promise of everyone’s happiness or a redistribution of income.

The real war in this fight in America today is whether the Americans want to stick with the principles of the founding fathers, although it seems that America today is in a once-in-a-lifetime crisis, or change an appreciable part of the very system that has served them pretty well so far. Yes, Americans are not sure whether they should lean toward expanding the government even further, which is the very idea that they have opposed for centuries but has been on the rise for sometime.

As the prominent political economist professor Warren Nutter argues in the same book: "The documents of the [American] Revolution protested against too much government, against the dead hand of paternalism and arbitrary power. Liberty to our Founders meant freedom from government"

Many Americans think that their forefathers might not have intended such a change for America. There is no need to add that politics is involved in this fight, the Republican grassroots used falsified arguments many times and provoked the elderly. But who can blame them? After all, does not 'organizing' also goes back to the beginning of America?

I just try to analyze the current fight with its historical contents and contemporary truths, a fight in which some of our reporter already seems to have picked his bad guys and his good guys. I am not sure if this is out of habit. At any rate, American politics are a little more intricate and complex than that, I am afraid. At least the majority of American people do not think that there are bad people who want to exploit others versus pure good people who want to change a bad system.

I also would like to think that people can have a different stand over a given issue, with their own genuine references and reasons. It feels much better to think that people can be just different, but still good. I would humbly recommend those who report on the American affairs for their Turkish readers should try to reflect American political and domestic fights with this discretion.


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