Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Senator Mitch McConnell and the Struggle Against Vilification

I’ve written recently about the breakdown in public discourse and the tendency for people to vilify their political opponents. As a Christian, I believe I’m called to resist that tendency and to look for the good in all my brothers and sisters. That responsibility encourages me to look for areas of commonality with those who embrace different positions on various issues. I must admit that in some contexts living up to that responsibility is a particular challenge.

In our current dysfunctional culture and political system, people get caught up in achieving their own short-term political gain. In the process, they ignore the long-term good of the country and/or the pressing needs of our brothers and sisters. In that context, people forget that politics is simply a means to an end. It should not be an end in itself. How empty and meaningless that would be.

After the recent mid-term elections, Senator Mitch McConnell publicly announced that his party’s chief goal is to make sure President Obama does not win re-election. Like others, I was floored by such a candid admission of a very twisted priority. To heck with achieving any progress on any of the pressing issues facing our nation and its people. Apparently, Senator McConnell simply wants to make sure his party gains control of the White House in 2012. At least he let us know what his priorities are. But I’m stunned that he would think such a priority is publicly acceptable. The following link discusses the senator’s comments and contains media pundit reaction.


Senator McConnell later elaborated that one of his party’s specific goals was repeal of the health care law enacted by both houses and signed by President Obama. He suggested that his party would be unrelenting in their pursuit of such repeal.

I just don’t understand that. First of all, Barack Obama made it quite clear in his campaign for the presidency that he wanted to achieve health care reform that would help more Americans get meaningful health insurance coverage. On that platform, he won the presidential election handily—both in terms of the popular vote and the Electoral College. He did not squeak out a win by a razor thin majority or the assistance of the Supreme Court. Candidate Obama never hide his plans for health care reform. For that reason, it literally makes me want to scream when politicians and others whine in a revisionist manner that our president is forcing an unwanted policy on us. The facts make it clear that is not the case. A minority may be unhappy and quite vocal about it. But a majority of us voted for such health care reform.

The anti-health care reform crowd derogatorily refer to the law that passed as either “Obamacare” and/or the “government take-over” of health care. Like the misinformation over the “death panels,” that is distortive propaganda. Such manipulative word choice implies that the health care reform law that was enacted will be a form of “socialized medicine” similar to the systems adopted in countries like Canada, Britain and France. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

President Obama and his party compromised greatly to get some health care reform accomplished. A single payer approach was nixed early on. Even a more modest “public option” was abandoned pretty soon into the debate. What was eventually enacted was modeled after the Massachusetts plan implemented under Republican Mitch Romney. The law that was actually enacted will require us to all buy insurance plans from for-profit companies. Republican President Richard Nixon long ago though that was a good idea. I’m not sure why the current Republicans are so hostile to the approach. It creates more customers for the insurance companies. Simultaneously, it will help many Americans who could not otherwise get affordable health insurance coverage. There are a lot of things I don’t like about the bill. But at least, it makes some modest improvement in the lives of people in need. In all honesty, the only reason I can imagine the current Republicans oppose the bill is that it is likely to be considered an accomplishment for President Obama. It could be used as a basis for his re-election.

The GOP has controlled the White House for many years and never did anything to enable people to get affordable, quality health insurance. They did not get rid of impediments to insurability based on preexisting medical conditions. Why on Earth not? People have been dying because they could not get treatment for chronic conditions. Families have lost their hard earned life savings when family members get sick. Costs have continued to spiral out of control. Who on Earth thinks that the status quo is desirable? It is not even sustainable. And gutting malpractice liability is not a panacea to the very complex problem. Texas has shown us that.

The link below includes Senator McConnell’s comments about the repeal of the health care law.


I simply do not understand Senator McConnell’s priorities. I try very hard to see the good in all my brothers and sisters. But when some people place political gain above all else, it is a tremendous challenge to me. I admit that with sincere personal humility.

To try to understand why Senator McConnell might have such priorities, I have done a bit of research about him. The senator has publicly indicated for a long time that he is a Baptist, but apparently he no longer is affiliated with any Baptist church. Senator McConnell has three children from his first wife. He has been married to his second wife, Elaine Chao, since 1993. They are considered to be a major power couple in political circles. Senator McConnell is a lawyer by profession, but almost immediately went into politics instead of practicing law. He has been in Congress since 1985. He is currently one of the wealthiest members of Congress; his personal fortune is over $30 million. I’m not entirely clear how he earned this huge amount of money. From what I have read, it appears to be from mutual fund investments. Many Americans invest in mutual funds, but few of us have that kind of phenomenal success. The links below contain some background on Senator McConnell:


Matthew 9:12

But when Jesus heard this, He said, "It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick.”

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