Thursday, June 21, 2012

In Sickness and in Health

Most who have awaited breathlessly the Supreme Court's verdict on our nation's healthcare by its decision on the Healthcare Affordability Act suspect what will happen. I certainly do. In general, no matter which institution one turns to for help in this nation one worries if help will be there when one needs it and those who have help now hope it will be retained.

I must have dreamed 2008. I thought the president would be supported like no other. Instead, he is road blocked at every corner. The heart-of-stone-five on the Supreme Court – Scalia, Thomas, Roberts, Alito, and more often than I would like to think the more rational Anthony Kennedy – seem to have little humanity. It is a sad thing. I do not know how to NOT pay attention as it affects me in profoundly negative ways. It is to me like a bad accident one cannot look at it but one cannot look away. A segment of our nation is uncompromising and extreme. These intractable five on the Court reflect the right wing extremism of that part.

I know what is coming. I click onto the news with fear that they will do what should not be done and that is leave millions without health care at the mercy of an insurance industry that cares only for its profits but that determines the life or death of people. It is a system that works only if one can pay for it or IF one is lucky enough to have a job.

It would be fine if one were buying a shirt to say the government cannot and should not dictate how it is sold but it is not a shirt. The Court's decision is about our health and our lives. Everyone will need health care and, too, ultimately everyone will be in a life or death situation. Health care, indeed, is not like buying a shirt and one half of our nation perhaps understands that. We understand, too, that policy reflects the heart of a nation and it seems this nation in our time has little of that heart.

When our generations are long gone I hope scholars will judge those egregious five, who like the Torquemadas of Inquisitional Europe hold lives in their hands, and historically relegate those five, quoting Ronald Reagan in pertinent part, “to the ash bin of history.”

A nation, as the traditional marriage vows dictate for individuals, should protect its people in sickness and in health. Right now most of our institutions fail at that social contract. As John Kennedy said “We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's future. And we are all mortal." When a nation ceases to care about its people we the people are not protected at all and nations composed of those people die too.