I have to 'fess up to being on the fence about national healthcare. I spent a fair amount of time working for a Canadian company, hearing on the sly about the underbelly of a nationalized system: it was a little worrisome. On the other hand, as a single parent who has had to scramble for coverage during a few periods when I've been doing consulting work -- funny how the lack of an outside employer does not relieve you of responsibility for a child! -- having some help with this would indeed be a relief.
But regardless where I stand on healthcare, Rep. Joe Wilson's outburst last night during President Obama's address to Congress put a fine point on all the issues that have driven moderates like me far away from the Republican party over the past two decades. Frankly, it's all about respect.
Some time during the late eighties and the early nineties -- actually, right around the time I became old enough to vote -- rhetoric from the GOP started moving from the positive to the personal. Folks like me who didn't hew to the party platform, became "unpatriotic." And with the party's adoption of the evangelical community and the move to start legislating private behavior, the labels got worse -- what was merely "unpatriotic" before was now "destructive" and "evil." Somehow, the party's agenda became the country's agenda, and the belief system of a few became standard issue for everyone.
And the folks putting out this POV? Well, they seemed to take it very, very personally. To the point where a pasty white lawmaker with his hands deep in the healthcare industry's till would feel that it's appropriate to call the Constitutionally-elected President a liar before both houses of Congress, on national television. Dude was wrong, BTW, but he did it anyway.
Now, I'm aware of the fact that there are many legislative houses in other countries where that sort of behavior would seem, well, rather banal. Check out this punching match in India's Parliament, for instance. But hey, they owe their democratic structure to the UK, and we worked really hard to get away from their shenanigans.
Look, I'll accept the fact that my choices may seem ill-considered, and maybe even idiotic, at times. But I resent the fact that someone thinks I'm "evil" because I support gay marriage. Or that I'm "unpatriotic" because I think it was idiotic to start a war in Iraq.
Here's the thing: I try to do the right thing, by myself, my friends and family, my countrymen and women. I'm also pretty smart, well-educated, and extremely skilled at researching information. If you're going to call me a liar, you better have your facts straight, or I'll catch you. And if you're going to keep calling me names, please make sure you're living a squeaky-clean life, because I'll find out when you're not. There are approximately 250 million more people like me in these old United States, and we're sick of the disrespect. You've made it personal, Messrs. Wilson, Cantor, Boehner and Rove. (And let's not forget you, Ms. Palin!) You've made it personal, y'all, when for us, it was strictly business. Don't be surprised when we take you out, and go home with the cannoli.