Recent press about Ron Paul contradicts the anti-war pro-freedom image he has done his best to project during his presidential campaign. We learned about his racism, we learn he pals around with someone who believes in a final solution for gay people. During one of the earlier GOP debates, we also learned something else about Dr. Paul, namely his attitude toward people without health insurance.
Dr. Paul’s comments are especially disturbing coming from someone who, at one time, practiced medicine. This is someone who was bound by the ethics that all doctors must follow. Historically, the Hippocratic Oath contained several ethical provisions, including:
Through time, the original Oath was updated and revised to the current version which states in part:
I will respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. If it is given to me to save a life, all thanks. But it may also be within my power to take a life; this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty. Above all, I must not play at God.
I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person’s family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the sick. (my emphasis)
In other words, Dr. Paul’s assertion that he would let an uninsured person die, defies his oath as a doctor. This begs a few questions. By admitting that he would violate his oath as a doctor, how can Americans trust him to uphold the oath of the presidency?
The greater issue is that Ron Paul is a poster boy for the GOP’s complete lack of compassion. We saw that reflected in the applause and cheers when he announced that he would let an uninsured person die. In fact, the ideological views of the GOP and the Tea Party suggest that compassion is a character flaw.
Cataloguing all the examples of GOP policies that illustrate a lack of compassion would take a book. Already several examples were reflected in year-end posts on politicususa by Hrafnkell Haraldsson in the Dirty Thirty Year End addition and Rmuse in 2011: The Year The Republican Party Repeatedly Humiliated America . So I’ll limit myself to a few examples that have or will adversely affect the health of Americans.
Let’s begin with the GOP’s effort to block confirmation of Regina Benjamin’s nomination to be Surgeon General during a global flu pandemic. Eventually, Dr. Benjamin was confirmed, ) so we can rule out the possibility that the GOP initially objected to her nomination on substantive grounds. In short, people’s lives were secondary to the all-important priority of GOP gamesmanship.
Then there’s the GOP’s desire to replace Medicare for seniors with a coupon system, resulting in less access to health care when it is needed most, and the overall detriment to health that would come with the inevitable increased poverty among seniors, since their healthcare costs would skyrocket. As reported in Forbes earlier this year, private health insurers cannot compete with Medicare on economic grounds.
“As I noted in “GOP To Propose Obamacare For Seniors”, private health insurance companies are simply more expensive to operate than government run Medicare, not to mention the importance of profit in the private system that does not exist in a government program. Accordingly, there is simply no way privatizing senior health care can cost us less.”
Under this arrangement, there would be another cost born by seniors. More expensive healthcare means seniors would have less access lifesaving treatment or no access at all.
We have seen the brutal assault on Planned Parenthood. The GOP seeks a complete shutdown of cancer screenings, testing and treatment of STDs and contraceptives which represent over 70% of Planned Parenthoods services in the name of preventing the 3% of their services that involves abortion. The likely result of this “pro-life” policy is an increased number of deaths of treatable illnesses, not to mention even more children living in poverty.
When it comes to children’s health, the GOP’s priorities are with the lobbyists. That’s what made it possible to declare pizza and french-fries as vegetables under the rules regarding nutrition in school lunch programs. Of course, the GOP would prefer to dispense with school lunch programs resulting in millions of American children going without even one decent meal a day, as reflected in Rmuse’s post on December 3:
Recently, the New York Times analyzed data from the NSLP that provides nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunches to children each school day. For an alarming number of children, the federally assisted meal program is the only decent meal they eat.
The number of school children receiving subsidized lunches rose to 21 million last school year; a 17% increase according to an analysis by The New York Times of Department of Agriculture data. In eleven states, including Florida, Nevada, New Jersey and Tennessee, there was a four-year increase of 25% or more.
Creating a situation in which there would be mass poverty and with it millions of malnourished children also means their health and with it, their lives, will be compromised. Just name one country in which the children who are malnourished grow up to be healthy, thriving adults.
None of this is consistent with being “pro-life.” If anything there is a macabre undertone to the GOP’s policies when it comes to the health and well-being of children, seniors and women, more so when you combine it with poverty.
These are also among the most vulnerable people in our society. One can argue the financial aspects all they wish, but they cannot claim that starving our children, denying health care to seniors and women who live in poverty bears any resemblance to compassion. As importantly, there is nothing pro-life about policies that will inevitably result in more deaths among these same sectors of our society.
With the New Year, we have new opportunities to say no to the GOP, the Tea Party and Democrats who advocate that money comes before the lives of the most vulnerable people in our country.
We also need to recognize that the right wing’s callousness and increasingly open hostility does not end with seniors, children and women particularly those living in poverty.
We can dismiss Ron Paul as a particularly eccentric homophobe and racist, yet, he reflects GOP and Tea Party views that extend well beyond his cult.
In their defense, the GOP and Tea Party’s enthusiasts will point to George Wallace and other historic examples of racism within the Democratic Party, while conveniently overlooking that as the Democratic Party changed for the better, the GOP changed for the worse following passage of the Civil Rights Act.
As noted in How Race Shaped American Politics:
Slowly and inexorably, white politicians drifted to the right and into the arms of the GOP, as the party once of Lincoln became more like the party of George Wallace, as far as blacks were concerned… President Richard Nixon codified that move as Republican policy when he used his “Southern strategy” to wean white voters from Democrats in his successful bid to win the presidency in 1968. In an electorate already open to racist appeals, it did not take much effort to pull off.”
The GOP’s resentment was reflected in the sort of policies that seek to preserve wealth and power for white people. It was always couched in talk of small government, states’ rights, and wealth creation, but ultimately it was about preserving white privilege. Then, in 2008, Barack Obama was elected to serve as the President of the United States. The “conservative” anger was immediate and extreme. You may remember Rush Limbaugh’s “Barack the Magic Negro” , the birther nonsense and the emergence of the Tea Party and the uglier racist version of the GOP that we see today.
“Finally, the GOP has morphed into the radical politics of Tea Party advocates, a situation from which traditional Republicans are desperately trying to extricate themselves. Racism has always been accompanied by ridiculous denials, such as Donald Trump’s declaration that he has “a great relationship with the blacks,” or Glenn Beck’s sponsorship of a march on Washington. Shucking off the ridiculous is part of the task facing GOP leaders if they wish to recapture the White House in 2012.”
One may argue that these are isolated incidents of right wing commentators seeking to sensationalize for dollars, ratings or both. But how does that explain the racial slurs and homophobic expressions used by ordinary Tea Party followers or even in their tweets on Twitter?
While attending the health care rally in Washington, D.C., on March 21, 2010, Springboro, Ohio, Tea Party founder Sonny Thomas posted a racist comment on the Springboro Tea Party Twitter page he managed by tweeting “Illegals everywhere today! So many spicks makes me feel like a speck. Grrr. Wheres my gun!?”
Then there are the Islamaphobic sentiments as reflected by Mark Williams who referred to Allah as a “Monkey god.”
There were Peter King’s Islamaphobic inquisitions to examine: the alleged radicalization of American Muslims. The Year closed with Lowe’s lowly decision to put its money where its Islamaphobia is.
Homophobia is an accepted GOP/Tea Party value. Michele Bachmann’s solution is to pray the gay away. Rick Santorum would “invalidate” same sex marriages.
Ron Paul’s homophobic sentiments are also well documented as was his enthusiastic acceptance of dominionist Rev. Phillip G. Kayser who makes Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum sound almost liberal.
But Kayser’s views on homosexuality go way beyond the bounds of typical anti-gay evangelical politics and into the violent fringe: he recently authored a paper arguing for criminalizing homosexuality and even advocated imposing the death penalty against offenders based on his reading of Biblical law.
While one could suggest that these are the views of extremists within the Republican Party, we see the extent to which homophobia has reached the relatively mainstream in Mitt Romney’s views as reported by our friends at FreakOutNation:
No actually I think at the time the Constitution was written it was pretty clear marriage was between a man and a woman,” said Romney as an aide jumped in, insisting they had an interview with Fox News to go to.
The compassionate conservatism that called for improving the general welfare of a society, albeit through conservative methods is replaced by resentment and hostility for America’s children, seniors, women, racial minorities, immigrants, the middle class and the poor. Rather than seeking to improve the general welfare of society, the GOP seeks to improve the general welfare of America’s most privileged members.
Let’s make this the year that we say no to the GOP and yes to a return of compassion. Let’s make this the year that the GOP knows what unemployment means from first hand experience. Let’s make this the year that all Americans, regardless of race, sexual orientation or economic status have someone representing their interest in Congress.