Selfish egoism and mutual indifference as a political creed ...
I happened to be reminded today of this exchange between Senators Jon Kyl of Arizona and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan (on September 25, 2009), which I thought at the time was one of the most deeply revelatory moments in the whole health care debate.
(P.S. To anticipate one possible reaction: Of course, there are a lot of serious and legitimate questions to be raised about how the dysfunctional US health care system can and should be reformed. And accepting the basic principle that in a decent society we have some mutual responsibilities toward each other is compatible with a range of possible constructive alternatives to the specific proposals embodied in the highly imperfect bills emerging from the legislative sausage-grinder.
But no serious person can pretend that either the Congressional Republicans or major Republican figures outside Congress, with the partial exception of some retired ex-officeholders like Bob Dole or Bill Frist, have actually tried to enter into an honest or constructive debate about how to implement serious reform. Instead, they have almost monolithically pursued a strategy of pure obstructionism--though few have been willing to acknowledge and advocate this as openly as, say, Bill Kristol--supplemented by systematic dishonesty, hypocrisy, and cynical fear-mongering. Some Republican and/or conservative readers may find that judgment a bit harsh, but facts are facts.)