Common Ground

Barack Obama advertises himself as the candidate who can bring people together. A while back, Stephen aka Q commented under my post “Iowa” that Obama can end the political and cultural tensions that currently divide the country.

To be honest, I’m rather skeptical. First of all, as likable as Obama may be, he is a liberal, probably more so than Hillary. As an Illinois legislator, Obama opposed legislation that would protect babies who survive late-term abortions. This vote places him not only to the left of Hillary, but also the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL)!

Second, I doubt that people will relinquish their political and cultural preferences just because of Obama’s charisma. I mean, seriously, folks. Do you expect me to become pro-abortion simply because Obama can give a good speech? I don’t think that Obama can make everyone in America agree. That is an impossible task.

At the same time, wouldn’t it be nice to have a leader who can find common ground with the opposing party, someone who doesn’t make the perfect an enemy of the good with an “all or nothing” approach? There are some things in America that desperately need reform, and the two parties should stop playing politics, come together, and agree on ways to make the situation better.

Let’s take health care as an example. Health care in America is very expensive (to say the least). There are people who crouch in fear at the possibility of them or their loved ones getting sick or injured, since the cost of treatment can wipe out their savings. And insurance premiums are also really high.

The Democrats and the Republicans disagree on what to do about this. The Democrats prefer a larger role for the federal government, whereas the Republicans look more to the private sector as a source for solutions. The Democrats side with the trial lawyers, whose lawsuits drive up the cost of health care. The Republicans, meanwhile, are friends with the HMOs and the insurance companies. I’m not naive enough to think that this will change anytime soon.

But, rather than limiting themselves to partisan bickering, why can’t the two parties sit down together, find areas of agreement, and make the situation at least better than it currently is? Not perfect, but better. And I’m not advocating that they stop fighting over socialized medicine, since that is an important issue. I’m just saying that they should first pass what they agree will help the average American, and then go back to their partisan bickering.

And there is one thing on which Republicans and Democrats seem to agree: tax credits to help people pay for insurance. The Bush plan will give the American taxpayer a deduction of up to $15,000 for insurance. And Hillary Clinton and John Edwards both promote tax credits for insurance on their campaign web sites.

On one level, I think that this proposal is a band aid solution. The goal should be to bring the cost of health care down, not to help people pay for its high price. But, alas, that goal must remain only a dream, for both parties are too beholden to special interests to accomplish this. The Democrats resist tort reform, and the Republicans oppose the importation of cheap prescription drugs. And, as I read in Michael Tanner’s Leviathan on the Right, Newt Gingrich as Speaker of the House worked to restrict hospital competition.

But if something can be done to give Americans a break, and both parties can find some common ground on what that something is, then shouldn’t they just do it? Can’t both sides see that half a loaf is better than none at all?

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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