Like many Americans (the far greater majority, it seems, according to both sides of the current debate) I am fortunate to have health coverage that meets my needs. I would rather it not be tampered with. I understand, however, that many changes need to be made with the way health care works in this country and have tried as a deeply concerned citizen to keep up with the proceedings on Capitol Hill.
A few weeks ago, I asked the question, “Are we finally going to be who we say we are?” Like all good questions, it left me with others: “Who are we, anyway?” Or, “What are we?”
It feels like there is a transformational struggle going on in Washington that confronts all of us with both of those questions. At the continued risk of gross oversimplification, here is the way I see it:
The chambers of the Capitol are home to both family lawyers and corporate attorneys. They are mixed on both sides of the aisles, though more predominant, it seems, on one than the other. The family lawyers want to take care of everyone, as a family should, while the corporate attorneys focus on the bottom line to make the business of this country viable and profitable. Both groups are voicing legitimate concerns.
Financially our country is in very unsettling trouble. The business that is America is hurting – really badly – and tough measures are needed to turn things around. Trickle-down policies got us here; now we have to find a better and a fair way of doing business. Health care is a big part of that business. I believe most Americans are relieved to know that something is finally going to be done about it.
As a family, our country is in even greater trouble. We are not doing well taking care of one another. Many are blatantly failing at assuming responsibility for themselves, seeing big government as a kind of Mom and Dad who owe them a living. But a family’s purpose is to make its members self-sustaining and, with rare exception, to enable all to accept and take on responsibility, not only for the gift of their own lives, but for being good and productive citizens as well. In the minds of our founding-fathers, government, like parents, was never meant to bankroll irresponsibility; it was meant to govern and, ideally, to care for those who genuinely cannot care for themselves.
That said, is it possible to see, through the shrillness of the current debates, our country as a family business? Is there any way for both family and corporate mindsets to come together to craft a plan that is economically workable, compassionate and fair?
The realities of our country’s wide sweep of needs will find no simple solutions. Health care is merely one of many massive problems facing all of us. None will be finally resolved unless and until we, as a people and as a government, hold ourselves accountable to the words that define us in the Declaration of Independence and our Constitution.
Those ideals may never be fully realized by any nation on earth. I am grateful, however, to be living in a country where they are not beyond reaching for.