What makes being a Democrat different from being a Republican? As a Democrat, I find this much harder to answer than I once did. Do Republicans?
Of course, there are rote, cliche responses based on traditional beliefs, ideals and values; answers generated robotically by party faithful and life-long members. But when current events contradict, old saws indeed seem rusty and dull.
Historic differences indeed exist as do beliefs forged through decades of challenge, change and compromise. Even so, the only thing I’m convinced of is that labels are misleading. Politicos and practitioners defy them and it’s truly asinine to assume anything these days about anyone despite his or her avowed affiliation–or even in consideration of what they say on the record. “Silly season” prevails. And the consequences can be grave.
Consider Health Care. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and head of the Senate Finance Committee, responsible for the final Health Care Reform bill, who had repeatedly said “all options are on the table”yet demonstrated early on that “Single Payer” was not one of them, even though Obama actively campaigned for sweeping health care reform. Over time, Mr. Baucus deftly bailed on the “Public Option” and stridently limited late compromises like Health Care “Co-Ops” (proven only partially successful in states that employ them) to generate a flaccid, “waveless mattress” of a bill that will provide support primarily to those (big corporate health care and insurance companies) who by virtue of their their campaign donations, brought Baucus to the dance.
In an effort to appease the right, Mr. Baucus, if successful, will apparently demonstrate once again the democratic party’s uncanny ability to roll over, assume the position to once again prepare for their proctologist’s expected invasion, only to find an insurance executive pinch-hitting. And woe to the uninsured.
If this impotent bill becomes law, the only celebrants will be big insurance, big pharma and their benefactors, including shameless profiteers like Max Baucus. So if Mr. Baucus is a democrat, I need a new party. Since I celebrate diversity, believe in separation of church and state, value personal integrity, don’t mind paying taxes and feel we have a responsibility to protect the most vulnerable among us, it won’t be the Republicans. But for the time being, I feel politically homeless.