I bolted straight up in bed last night and asked myself the most obvious question most folks in the media should be asking themselves about the health care reform debate. “Where is the bell-shaped curve in the GOP dissent?”
Think about this. When was the last time you had forty supposedly independent-minded people agree on anything?
The average family Thanksgiving dinner has 8-12 people. On a rather banal issue, say the ideal turkey, the majority of people will agree in the middle and go with roasted. A few will say deep-fried and a few will say tofurky. But to get 12 people all in the same family and all having a shared desire to have a successful Thanksgiving dinner to agree to all say the same thing is just not ever going to happen. Ever.
So, why are forty US Senators all holding fast to the same opinion on health care reform? Is the bill so bad that not one of them would ever consider supporting even a small part of it? (before you answer, I give you tofurky. On Thanksgiving.) Given our smaller sampling of a family which has more inherent homogeneity, I’m leaning towards the actual content of the bill not being the reason all forty are holding fast to the same opinion. There must be another reason.
A reasonable, smart person would examine an argument and concede certain points to the opposition, agree with some arguments being offered by the defense and then offer some arguments of his own. While membership in a particular group says we will have similar experiences, we each have our own experience which entitles — nay, obligates — us to have an individual point of view. So, why are a group of forty holding fast to the same opinion without guilt or any feeling that they are abdicating their obligation to country?
Some would say it is easier to say “no,” to do nothing and hang onto the status quo. But these are pretty smart folks who got themselves elected to the US Congress. They know that the fastest route to irrelevance is to deny change. They know new life is born, old life dies and to fight change is to deny death and taxes, which they all believe in. So, why are all GOP senators right in the middle?
The question here might be more accurately phrased, “Why are US Senators not empowered to think independently on both sides of the aisle?” Why do we have an aisle? Are we so afraid that nothing will ever get done due to one-hundred people all thinking for themselves without a party dictating the path? Would we still have a bell-shaped curve if we had one-hundred different opinions on one issue. Human experience says we would.
The two-party system is broken. The US Congress is playing games in which they appear silly, stupid and petty to everyone outside Washington and the press. But, unlike a game, the choices these guys make affect our lives out here.
I say we should lower the age of eligibility from thirty-five to six and then we could elect the average Kindergartner to be a US Senator. We’d get the same result, only CSPAN would be a heck of a lot more fun to watch!