Oh, how I struggle with this issue. It's not clear cut for me, and anyone who is reading this blog post thinking that I'm going to present a cogent, totally rational, black-and-white argument is going to be sorely disappointed (and probably doesn't know me very well anyway, since grey is an essential part of my palette).
It's about being thrown under the bus.
And yes, I know we've talked about it before.
I learned a lot about the whole concept, especially from Jon Henner, who has reminded me, again, and again, that feminists, like gays, cannot deny their solidarity with the disabled when it becomes politically expedient.
I just want to say that when it comes to the Health Care Bill, there's been far too much political expediency; too much graft; too many fat cats eating far too many little mice; and too many people on the streets, scared to death that, because they perceive limited health care benefits pie, it's they who are going to lose their slice in order to accommodate other's fair shares.
Oy. I'm so tired right now I don't want to go on.
I must go on.
A group of allies, concerned about this issue have put together a Web Site that aggregates much of the information and disinformation about who gets what from whom under the new Health Care Bill.
And let's be honest. SOME people will benefit. Depending on which talking head you listen to on the television, as few as (italics are for irony) five-to-ten million people will be left w/o health insurance. Well, hell, that's not very many people. Sort of the population of New York, give or take a borough, but let's not get technical.
So, rather than attempt the type of serious, analytical work that some of our most talented OSers are renowned for, I need to go back to the personal. I have two stories to tell.
On December 29, I told you the story of the young woman, who, despite obvious pain and misery, was not able to afford to buy essential prescription drugs because she was broken.
I felt, as one commenter reminded me, as if I had witnessed a human rights violation. If we are capable of alleviating pain, and we refuse to do so on the basis of cold, hard, meaningless paper, what does that say about us as a society? Why do we pay for war, to kill people, to kill our own, and balk to preserve health?
What is it about the control of bodies that motivates us so?
The second issue is directly related to the first, and it deals with one, specific decision to deny healthcare to a particular population--fecund females--who might find themselves with unwanted pregnancies. Doesn't matter how they got that way. Our new healthcare rules say that, even if you can find a health care insurance company, unless you're willing to pay for a rider, you can't get your abortion covered.
How dare our legislators decide what medical decisions are worthy of their advise and consent? As Senator Boxer asked, "Why is there no Viagra rider?" It's okay to do the deed? But we're not paying for the consequences?
And that leads me to the deeply personal on all of this, of something that still makes me angry each time I think of it, and for which I'm still awaiting an apology. (And yes, I know I'll be and old woman, but I'm trying not to hold a grudge. Honest. They don't become me. They make that deep line between my eyes look like the Marianas Trench)
Have you ever heard a tree full of cicadas in full voice? As you move, the sound skips and jumps, reverberates; you can feel it under your skin. It can be highly disturbing.
This was part of a letter I wrote in 2006 to Dan Savage. Savage, a well-known gay activist and sex columnist and Editor of Seattle's The Stranger had asked all of his allies to send money to Bob Casey, Democrat of Pennsylvania, in Casey's (successful) bid to upset Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania. The problem was, and Savage admitted it, Casey was virulently anti-choice. And while Savage knew this was a problem, he asked his allies to overlook this fact because, as he saw it, if we all "swallowed hard," put a few anti-choice Democrats in the House and Senate, well they'd still be anti-choice but the Dems would be in the majority and party discipline would hold them together. Savage continued to cleave to that idea even after Casey sent Savage back his campaign contribution, afraid that accepting funds from Savage would send a message to supporters that he supported the gay agenda.
We have seen how well it has worked out for all of us center-left that we've put conservative Democrats into positions of power.
We see it especially in the Health Care Bill, where there's quite a few of us who are about to get run over by the bus we were thrown under to garner the support of men and women who have inflated views of their own power, and the supposedly powerful who allowed them to hold on to those illusions.
(Guess whose name is on the anti-choice parts of the health care bill? Yep. You got it. Bob Casey)
Here's what I want to say to those of us who are trying to be allies: womanists, humanists, feminists, religious liberals, gays, lesbians, the disabled, People of Color,. We have things that we have in common. They are our basic civil and human rights. Can we please make a pact among ourselves that we are not willing to trade away some other group's basic rights in order to secure our own?
It just doesn't seem to be working.
LBJ may have said it was better to have people pissing inside your tent, (actually, Rob just corrected me. The correct quotation is: Actually, "It's probably better to have him inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in.") but if we don't stop pissing all over each other, we're just going to wind up wet, stinky, and ostracized.
I know that the supposed beauty of the D's is that it tries to be all things to all people and therefore winds up being nothing to nobody. And yes, I know, my papers are pending. But since the Republicans have got nothing to offer me, and there's no Third Party on the Horizon, I'm just trying to make sure, that at least for this ride, this Health Care ride, that we all take turns holding on to one another, fighting to keep each other strapped on, sat down, tied down--if need be--but not, never, ever under the bus.
Will you join me?
And most important, will you consider doing two things?
I've talked a little about the concept of being thrown under the bus.
Would you consider writing your own blog post about what this term means to you?
And will you consider contacting your representatives today and telling them that you need to have them stop and take a recount of who is on the bus, because you're sure we lost a few people back around that corner?
Please add this to your essential reading list today. I thank you. Let's see how far this bill gets
I thank you for your time today.