Our Politics Get Curiouser and Curiouser

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney is running as hard as he can away from what is probably the best thing he did as Governor of Massachusetts. As governor of that state, he supported and then signed into law one of the most successful programs a governor has ever been able to add to his resume. It was the Massachusetts health care plan, which has provided coverage for nearly every resident of the state, is wildly popular and, seems poised to actually get a handle on the ruinous rise in healthcare costs we all face. Romney should be proud as a peacock of this program because it is a HUGE success.

Instead, I recently watched him on television stutter and sweat and try to explain why this signal achievement is no big deal. According to the most recent polls, nearly 85% of the people of Massachusetts are pleased as punch with the program. You would think that would be on his resume in BIG BRIGHT RED LETTERS. Not so. Why not? Because the political wisdom is that this program that is so successful and so popular (and so good for the people of Massachusetts) is the primary reason you will never hear about a President Mitt Romney. You see, it is socialism. Forget about the fact that it works. Forget about the fact that it has helped the people of Massachusetts get through their daily lives more comfortably and safely. Forget about the fact that it is a shining example of how we can work together for the common good (I know, I know. It has its detractors and has things in it that I don’t like either, but overall, it is working.) It is SOCIALISM, at least according to the ultraconservatives who seem to be running the Republican Party.

How, I ask myself, does this make any sense? A governor of a state supports and signs the passage of a law that helps the people of the state and that is truly supported by over 80% of the people in the state. Now that governor is trying to distance himself from the accomplishment! What in the pluperfect hell is that about? How does this make sense?

The only way it makes sense is if you put it into the context of a political discussion (if you can call yelling at each other a discussion) that has seriously jumped the rails. The Massachusetts health care plan is not a liability because it did not work. It is a liability because it is not politically correct. The left has always been excoriated by the claim that all things are sacrificed in the name of political correctness. The microphone grabbers on the right have long asserted that objection to racial slurs, gender slurs or ethnic slurs are all, to at least some degree, a pandering to various minority groups by the left, and not a demand for common decency.

But those same right-wing people have taken political correctness to entirely new heights. It makes no difference if a government program helps people, saves money, saves lives, reduces human misery and helps kids grow up as better citizens, if it is perceived as some kind of socialism. It has to be stamped out and the ground that it grew out of must be salted so it cannot come back. Results don’t count. Ideology and sloganism are all-important.

Frankly, if they read history, the people who take these stands would condemn the Pilgrims as socialists. They worked together for the common good and shared the fruits of their labors. The brave people involved in the early attempts to colonize this country succeeded or failed together; since failure meant death, they worked together and shared food, labor and shelter, all socialist objectives.

Indeed, by ultraconservative definition, the county Department of Public Works is probably a socialist plot. After all, they take my tax dollars to fix your street, at least this year. Next year, your tax dollars may be used to fix my street.

The point of this is, at least to me, obvious. As the early colonists figured out, there are a lot of things we can do together collectively that we cannot do well individually. It does me little good to fix the street in front of my house if you refuse to fix the street in front of yours. And even if everyone on the block is a person of good will, it makes more sense to do it all at once. Government is good at that, or at least better than any system anyone else has designed.

Unfortunately, Mitt Romney is not going to be the only victim of this political correctness. We are about to all become the victims because that standard of political correctness is being used by ultraconservatives across the country to make important decisions without regard for whether they are in the best interests of the country or the people who live there. If the debt ceiling is not raised, we will default on our obligations and the economy of this country will assume the flight path of a set of car keys. If the ultraconservatives in the state legislature do not let the tax extension on the ballot, you should not expect to be able to get any government services anytime soon. Trying to get a building permit will be like dealing with a Third World agency. Not because the skeleton crew will be lazy or indifferent, but because they will be overwhelmed. If you like the lines at the DMV now, you will love what is coming. And you people on Social Security; what are you going to do when there is nobody to write your checks?

I have to confess that I feel sorry for Mitt Romney. He did a great thing for the people of Massachusetts, and it will haunt him for the rest of his life because the people who have the reins of the Republican Party will never forgive him for being a “socialist.” (Hint: He is not. He is a proud capitalist. He just understood that some things are done better by the government, a view shared by our founding fathers, who were pretty smart.

Dugan Barr has practiced law in Redding since 1967. He has tried more than 200 civil jury cases to verdict. He is married and has five children. The offices of Barr and Mudford, LLP, are at 1824 Court St. in Redding and can be reached at 243-8008.

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Dugan Barr
Dugan Barr has practiced law in Redding since 1967, primarily in the areas of personal injury and wrongful death. He has tried more than 200 civil jury cases to verdict. He is married and has five children. He can be reached at Barr & Mudford, 1824 Court St., Redding, 243-8008, or dugan@ca-lawyer.com.
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6 Responses

  1. Avatar Susan73 says:

    I don't read anywhere that Romney is running away from the Massachuetts Health care bill. You must have read some spin. What Romney does not like is the Federal Health Care bill. There are great differences in the two bills. Mostly cost and orchestration and constitutionality. Romney also has stated over and over again that the Massachusetts bill is not perfect and there are things he would change about it. Maybe making sensible changes to it makes you think he does not support it. It does not mean that in my book

    “What we did wasn’t perfect,” Romney said. “But overall, am I proud of the fact that we did our best for our people and we got people insured? Absolutely.”

    http://evangelicalsformitt.org/2010/04/four-hugel

    Be sure a checkout the "myth" that is highlighted in the article above

    http://www.boston.com/news/health/articles/2010/0

  2. Avatar Susan says:

    Dugan actually put his finger on one of the issues in politics today. Our politicians are anxious enough to be elected that they very often say what they think people want them to say rather than what they really believe and may be passionate about. As voters, we often fail to discover what the candidate is really about and vote according to "party". That is, to me, one of the reaons we are in the situation we are in. When we vote, we don't always know what we are getting as a result of our vote.

  3. Avatar Susansible says:

    Dugan, great essay. Spot on. We Republican't should be ashamed…unfortunately handing the keys to the Dimocrats won't get the middle class any better results. Thanks to the Supreme Court corporate money has this all tied up. The sooner we take that influence out of the equation, the sooner we can get back to "…of, and by, the people"

  4. Avatar Gamerjohn says:

    Wow, an article on Romney that does not mention his church, but focuses on what he actually did as governor.

    4 years ago when I learned that Palin had worked with the Dems in Alaska to overcome the long time GOP structure, I had respect for her, even though I thought she was too inexperienced to be the Veep. Of course since then she renounced everything good she did, clogged up the process in Alaska and then bailed for the money. I could never vote for her.

    Mitt maybe, who else is actually going to run and what have they done?

  5. Avatar Keith says:

    I don't think Mitt will be the nominee as it should be the nominee has not yet come out in my opinion. Mitt Romney would make a great president, but the blog is correct the Romney Care issue is too much for the right. I have heard Mitt state that he feels he did the right thing with Romney care, but he strongly disagrees with the Federal Government mandating it on the states, which I agree with. The federal government has grown 33% more FED jobs since Obama has been in office. The president is now dealing with three wars why not two then he would not have to take the blame. As for the tax extension in CA I have to laugh at the tax and spend types. At what point do we stop the outrages spending if we do not have the money we do not have the money what part of that is so hard to understand. I see on the left a nasty addiction to spending every time they are told to cut back, slow down, the first thing out of their mouth is, oh no we need to raise taxes the same thing a drug addict does (I need to steal more so I can spend it on my habit). I work for the state and see a lot of waste and spoiled employees myself I think the state could do well with a 50% reduction in staff starting with management. Merging more departments and eliminating many would be a good start. Department of education, Real-estate give me break most of the departments in the state we would not even notice if that were gone. If we do not raise the debt ceiling without big cuts we would not notice except all the blab we would hear on TV. All I want is common sense in government and I do not see much with our present government, but 2012 things most likely will change for the better. By the way as far as the cuts go they can start with my job.

  6. Avatar JonH says:

    There are a lot of people with blinders on. One thing historians say about history…. you don't judge events from another historical time and context by todays standards. The conservative shift since Pres. Obama is further to the right than ever before when it comes to the long standing conservative republican healthcare solution views long held for decades.

    Mr. Romney took long standing conservative republican thought about healthcare after finding a financial opening made possible by Pres. Reagan's healthcare provisions for the poor. Married the two and was praised by the most conservative republicans like Senator DeMint for being brilliant……..until… the "shift". But the shift mentality that NOW says it is no longer brilliant just can't comprehend the line in the sand between Federalism's states rights protections VS. the central government's power concentration infringements. If they did they would be in much less of mobocratic frenzy.