Like a lot of people, I get a certain amount of ‘junk mail’ in my email inbox, some of it wanted, like the various eclectic, innocuous but interesting things such as A Word A Day and The New Zealand Week and my second favourite aviation newsletter, AVWeb. I even – god help me – knowingly subscribe to a few of the more rabid rightwing websites just to keep myself informed about whatever the other side is foaming at the mouth over today. (Think I’ll just mention them in passing without giving any the benefit of a link, however). Sometimes I sign an on-line petition or make a donation and inevitably end up with endless newsletters soliciting more money and more signatures from me, like from BoldProgressive.org – which the other day sent me yet another plea, this time to help defeat Republican Olympia Snowe who opposes the public health insurance option.
So over my morning toast and coffee, I read BoldProgressives’ article on Nancy Randolph, who with her husband were a modestly well-off married couple from Maine, and had paid for what they had thought was excellent health insurance… until Mr. Randolph was diagnosed with cancer and the insurance company denied him coverage. He died, and the couple ended up in bankruptcy. Heartbreaking, gut-roiling stuff. And my heart truly does go out to Nancy Randolph, hers is a terrible tragedy made so much worse by knowing it was preventable. But there was one small point that bothered me...
Nancy Randolph voted for Republican Olympia Snowe.
In the clip, Nancy explains she voted for Snowe because she thought the senator would be ‘independent’. What, she didn’t notice the great big R beside the candidate’s name on the ballot? She didn’t notice how ‘independent’ a certain senator from a nearby New England state has been?
Far, far too many people in this country have either voted Republican, or worse, didn’t vote at all, because they didn’t think all those issues progressive have been so annoyingly vocal about for years would ever affect them. They’re hardworking middle class folks with decent jobs at good pay; why should they worry WalMart threatening their workers with violence if they dare to unionize? They’ve kept themselves in decent shape, watched their diet, exercised, stopped smoking, been responsible for their health and the worst medical problem they’ve had to deal with has been a bad cold or a sprained ankle, why should their hard-earned taxes go into paying for treating someone else’s kid with paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria… whatever the hell that is? They’ve been upstanding citizens responsible and financially prudent, just as the conservatives have always claimed they should be, been loyal employees for stable companies and managed their pensions and modest investments carefully, saved up to put their kids through college. So why should they care about other people who weren’t as sensible, why should they care about tuitions skyrocketing and universities cutting back on such rubbish as the arts or adult education? Why should they worry about companies that go under from mismanagement, why should the government imposing regulations on the banks and investment firms that have done such a good job of safeguarding their retirement? They’ve been conscientious about donating to proper charities, like their church or Girl Scouts or those little brown kids in far away countries, but resent one penny of their tax money being used to help deadbeats or drug addicts or criminals in prison or single mothers or high school dropouts – those people get what they deserve… don’t they?
It’s not even like Olympia Snowe is on the same level of revulsion and incompetence as is Mean Jean Schmidt or Michele Bachmann or Sarah Palin, either. Snowe has earned her respected reputation, rarely missing a vote. She and fellow Republican Maine Senator Susan Collins went against her own party to vote to acquit Clinton, adamant his perjury didn’t warrant his being hounded from office. She’s angered the GOP enough times for them to have accused her of being a RINO, and she has shown genuine bi-partisanship in the past. Her reluctant opposition to the current attempts at health care reform has not been as dogmatic and irresponsible as all too many of her colleagues’, either. As Republicans go, this country can and has done a hell of a lot worse than Olympia Snowe, some of them even being our own Blue Dogs… haven’t we? We can live with a compromise, better we get a little something rather than nothing at all… right? Right?