It was once a foregone conclusion that America was an exceptional country that offered freedom, unlimited opportunity, and a constitution that protected every citizen regardless of race, religion or economic status. In 2011, conservatives are moving to further distinguish America as exceptional in areas that every other wealthy industrialized nation considers disgraceful.
The Republican Party has assailed Americans’ most basic rights that Franklin Delano Roosevelt attempted to establish over 60 years ago. On January 11, 1944, FDR proposed a second bill of rights to address what are arguably simple human rights that every citizen in the wealthiest nation on Earth should expect as normal. Although Roosevelt’s basic necessities of life should be the goal of every politician tasked with ensuring Americans’ well-being was second-to-none, there was opposition from conservatives then, just like there is today.
Roosevelt’s second bill of rights included the right to have decent medical care, and it has been illusive for over 60 years until Democrats passed the Affordable Health Act in 2010. Although the AHA is not the universal health care Roosevelt envisioned, it is a start. It has also engendered outrage from conservatives who believe that adequate, affordable healthcare is a privilege, and not a right. Conservatives perpetuate America’s exceptionalism in denying all of Roosevelt’s basic rights, but it is the lack of health care that distinguishes America as a third-rate nation where only the wealthiest citizens have access to the best medical care in the world.
Republicans chastise President Obama for not promoting American exceptionalism to the rest of the world, but in many areas, America’s exceptionalism is considered shameful and a disgrace in other industrialized nations. It is remarkable that advanced capitalist countries adopted Roosevelt’s second bill of rights that is responsible for their people’s prosperity, contentment, and longer lifespan than Americans, but Republicans are intent on keeping America exceptional; for denying basic human rights to its citizens.
FDR considered medical care a basic right and after World War II, Germany, Japan, and Italy included his second bill of rights in their constitution. In those countries, every citizen is entitled to medical care as a basic human right from cradle to the grave, but none of those European governments consider themselves exceptional. Unlike America, they believe that the pursuit of happiness includes the right to good health and that a government owes it to its people to provide such a basic right. Besides being restricted from receiving adequate medical coverage, Americans suffer devastating moral, social, and economic calamities because they lack good health care.
In America, insufficient healthcare contributes to 62.1% of all bankruptcy filings in the most recent 2007 study, and the number has increased dramatically since then. Between 2001 and 2007, the share of bankruptcies attributable to medical problems rose by 50% and with the Bush-Republican economic crash of 2008, more people lost their employer-provided health insurance that led to mortgage defaults that perpetuated the problem. It is not just poor people who suffer economic ruin from lack of medical care. Most medical debtors who filed for bankruptcy were well educated, owned homes, and had middle-class occupations. Probably the most tragic part of the statistics is that 75% of medical bankruptcy filers had health insurance, but limits on coverage, pre-existing conditions, or inability to work caused them to lose coverage as well as their homes. For many bankruptcy filers, their staggering debt included credit cards charges to pay for health care when they were unable to work or their health coverage proved inadequate. Of all the advanced capitalist countries in the world, Americans’ healthcare cost as a percentage of GDP is nearly 16%; the next highest country is France with a little over 10%; France has the finest healthcare in the world and every citizen is covered. America also has the highest infant mortality rate with deaths at 6.8% for every one thousand live births. America is exceptional in bankruptcy and allowing infants to die from inadequate health care, but Republicans do not tout those statistics or publicize such an auspicious, exceptional statistic.
Republicans oppose FDR’s dream of medical care for all because they hate Americans. The reasons they gave during the health care debate were nothing but lies and fear-mongering, but the primary objection to universal healthcare is their contempt for Americans who are not extremely wealthy. The lying Republicans claimed President Obama would establish death panels, eliminate patient’s choice of doctors, and myriad other reasons that were never true. Conservative groups funded by the Koch brothers convinced ignorant GOP supporters and teabaggers that the AHA was a Socialist plot to take over health care and were instrumental in misinforming the public. When Democrats did attempt to explain the AHA at town hall meetings in their districts, Dick Morris used Koch-funded teabaggers to disrupt the meetings so the public never fully understood the law.
Now, Republican controlled states, teabagger groups, and evangelical groups are taking the law before the courts over the individual mandate to carry health insurance. However, Republicans do not object to state mandates to carry vehicle accident insurance or workers compensation insurance because they have turned out to be a protection to all of society and the health law will accomplish the same feat. The Republicans also promoted the idea that the AHA was socialized medicine even though private insurance companies are the recipient of 30-40 million new policy holders. More than half of teabaggers who protested the health law were already receiving Medicare and Social Security that are government social programs, so their objection to what was unfairly labeled as “socialized medicine” was curious and demonstrated the level of ignorance Americans are notorious for.
Mike Huckabee, the preacher who campaigns to repeal the health law, claims in commercials that Americans do not want health care and that the health law was “rammed down our throats.” Huckabee demonstrates that, like most evangelicals, he does not comprehend the Constitution’s process for passing legislation, and like many preachers, certainly doesn’t understand what it means to tell the truth and prefers to use scare tactics and misinformation. However, Huckabee typifies many conservative Christians in positions of power and influence by using fear-mongering to convince his followers that President Obama is attempting to destroy America. FDR would be amazed at the nature of the attacks and vitriol connected with providing the most basic right of decent medical care for all Americans.
Roosevelt’s notion of medical care as a basic right should be embraced by all Americans, but there is a new feeling of “me” instead of “we” in American society. In European countries, people do not like paying taxes any more than in America, but they do feel an obligation to help their fellow countrymen. America has become a country full of selfish bigots, and the modern conservative movement is promoting the “me only” ideology of Ayn Rand to fool Republicans into supporting wealthy industrialists and corporations. There is no sense of altruism left in this country except for a limited number of liberals who promote secular humanitarian issues, and those people are exceptional in a country full of greedy sycophants.
The fact that FDR considered providing medical care to all Americans as a basic right implies that government has a duty to care for its citizens. A government that cares for and protects its citizens is not exceptional, but for the wealthiest nation on Earth to deny its citizens the most basic rights is exceptionally greedy and shows the level of contempt for the people it is supposed to serve. The AHA is really health insurance reform and in fact, will enrich the private-sector insurance carriers with 30-40 million new policy holders. Republicans would normally embrace any law that forces Americans to enrich the insurance industry, so the only reasonable explanation for their opposition is that they hate anything President Obama supports; they also hate Americans.
America does have the best health care in the world, but it is reserved for the extremely wealthy and Congressional representatives who let the American people pay for their premium coverage. Apparently, Republicans reject FDR and Obama’s wishes that all Americans have the basic right of medical care because they want to remain exceptional. America is exceptional with the highest infant mortality rate, medical bankruptcies, highest cost of healthcare, and highest percentage of uninsured citizens in the civilized world.
It is no wonder President Obama does not promote American exceptionalism around the world, because the areas America is exceptional in are a disgrace. However, these days Republicans seem to revel in touting disgraceful policies that show their contempt for the people by eliminating and denying simple, basic human rights. America is not exceptional, but Republicans are exceptionally evil and do not deserve the basic rights Americans provide for them. What they do deserve is exceptionally harsh prison sentences for contempt for the people’s basic human rights and their hatred for the reputation of the United States of America.