Sex, Lies, and ObamaCare
Before "if you like your plan, you can keep it," the Obama left made a whole spate of false promises in the realm of sexuality.
It's worth connecting the dots between the folly of ObamaCare, an issue for which I wasn't personally on the front lines, and the sweeping folly of sexual radicalism, an issue for which I was.
In the rhetorical battlefield over sex and sexuality, the left rehearsed and perfected public-opinion warfare. These seasoned tactics led to the triumphal hubris of ObamaCare and the collateral damage of its inexorable implosion. Pick your antique allegory of overconfidence: the Tower of Babel, King Midas, Agamemnon, Icarus, Phaethon, Prometheus. Old lessons are usually learned the hard way.
When I refer to radical experiments, I do not strictly mean "ligbitist" or LGBT ideology. The Sexual Revolution, no-fault divorce, artificial reproductive technology, commercialized adoption, aggressive abortion funding, egg harvesting, sexual education in schools, transgender locker room access, pornography, and over-reliance on condoms are all part of the larger sexual Hindenburg (h/t to Constance Jacobs for this metaphor) that predated and led to the health care Hindenburg.
The specific culpability of the ligbitists lies in the proportionality of their folly. Feminists had legitimate gripes regarding 50% of humanity and came up with a mix of responses to the plight of women -- some helpful (like more awareness of rape) and others destructive (like the Slut Walk and gender-neutral pronouns in Swedish).
LGBT ideology was based on the whims of a tiny number of people -- less than 1% of the world population, realistically speaking.
Because this small population could not have sex without some inconveniences (a police raid on a gay bar, ostracism, a guilt trip in church on Sunday, etc.), the ligbitists responded with global overreach and insane prescriptions that have done more harm than good to gays and lesbians (look up HIV rates, domestic violence among same-sex couples, eating disorders, homosexual rape and predation, and so on and so forth), plus foisted a host of horrendous social ills on the 99% of the population that had no, or minimal, same-sex attractions, and therefore had no need of any changes to sexual culture at all.
The purveyors of both sexual radicalism and ObamaCare use litigious public-policy minutiae to camouflage the real issue: the relationship between human souls and their own bodies. There are endless studies, statistics, and personal narratives -- a bottomless well of them -- that can distract politicians, reformers, citizens, and educators with examples (the bullied teenage boy, the president's mother arguing with health insurance companies on her deathbed, the "1,700 rights" denied to gay couples, the pathos of Michael Moore's Sicko).
Amid their distraction, people don't realize that their entire spiritual identity is being transformed.
Is death something to be postponed at the expense of others? Does it make sense for society to shield us against the vicissitudes of the unknown? If we become people obsessed with avoiding pain and fleeing from death, who will we be? The Roman poet Horace tells us, in Ode. 3.2, that "[v]irtue throws open the gates of heaven to those not deserving to die, and directs her course by forbidden ways and spurns the vulgar crowd." From here flows that old saying, "a coward dies a thousand deaths, a hero only one." To build an ethos upon the notion that death and suffering are evils that the state must wipe out, we must rewrite human experience.
These are the real questions that are being debated as we debate ObamaCare. We can't discuss them, though, because we are screaming about the HTML code on a botched website.
See how this rhetorical game works? Busy the public with details, details, then redefine their entire relationship to the physical world. It is tyranny of the pettifoggers.
Growing up with a lesbian mom and spending almost my whole life immersed in the gay community, I know the routine well. You defer the deeper philosophical questions -- such as, "how do I reconcile my urges with the consequences they pose to my social relationships, my obligations to those outside me, and me as well?" -- with something more immediate and numbing: some whiffs from a brown bottle of poppers, a few rounds at the bathhouse, a pep talk on the pages of Advocate, a rally to shut down Catholic Charities adoption services unless they give gay couples babies, and now, and on their terms. If all else fails, find a new person to jump in the sack with. Rinse and repeat until somehow the emptiness in your life is offset with a quest for the perfect orgasm and a photo album dedicated to the baby you trafficked from an overseas orphanage.
All would be fine if the fallout were limited to the person choosing such a dilatory coping strategy. But people who base their social choices on self-delusions destroy people around them. We are social beings, and we end up dragging others into our folly. For the Sexual Revolution to enshrine the promise of guilt-free pleasure, fetuses had to be aborted, shy women were pressured into the arms of seducers, kids were bounced back and forth in divorce court, and children born into unstable familial relations had to suffer the confusion and sense of abandonment in silence, smiling and affirming their parents' selfish choices to keep the charades and fantasies solvent.
From this early generation of collateral damage, then came my cohort -- the children forced into same-sex-couple households who must feign unending happiness with their fatherless or motherless situations, never admitting all the dark, forgotten hours when they had to hold up the fragile egos of their self-serving gay parents and keep up appearances so the right-wing press wouldn't condemn their families as proof that homosexuality is a sin.
These rare, obscure vignettes presaged the millions of people now who log onto ObamaCare to find that the website doesn't work, the promises were fake, their premiums aren't going to go down, they will have to pay more for less, and won't die a day later than they would have, or be the slightest bit happier, had fanciful utopianists not snagged them in their schemes.
There is a major difference, though, and here the parallel ends. For while kids destroyed by the Sexual Revolution and same-sex parenting might have been a contained population that the left could guilt-trip into silence, the vile blowback of ObamaCare is affecting everyone with the same heartlessness: the apathetic and the engaged, left and right, pro- and anti-Obama, healthy and sick. The ObamaCare pushers learned how to win from their victories in pushing sexual change, but they overlooked the inconvenient fact that health insurance bills come with a clear, unequivocal price tag. The falseness is undeniable.
As it turns out, computer programmers can't resolve millennia-old dilemmas about the nature of happiness and death, even in three years. As it turns out, gay people who have been promised children will engage in human trafficking and bring back chattel slavery in the form of artificial procreation to get what they want, and no, they don't have a magical ethical trigger to stop them from going too far. Humans abuse loopholes, exploit others, cheat, lie, and betray. The experts who sold us stupid idealism as a policy strategy are always gone when things go wrong. As they inevitably do.
Perhaps since I am an English professor I am biased, but I would argue that the poets do much more to help us than we can hope for from Kathleen Sebelius -- or the American Medical Association, or the American Psychiatric Association, or any of the picayune "experts."
Edgar Allan Poe wrote this about the human drive to control physical experience, to the point of destroying oneself:
And I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand-
How few! yet how they creep
Through my fingers to the deep,
While I weep -- while I weep!
O God! can I not grasp
Them with a tighter clasp?
O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?
I wish the designers of ObamaCare would have read this poem in my English 473 class. You cannot hold onto life, love, and health, the way that one tries to keep sand from slipping through one's fingers. Do so, and you will lose sight of what life is, and not even know the differences among a dream, a dream within a dream, allegory, and reality.
Poe wasn't the only one. William Cullen Bryant wrote "Thanatopsis" in the early nineteenth century, with these immortal lines:
So shalt thou rest -- and what if thou shalt fall
Unnoticed by the living -- and no friend
Take note of thy departure? All that breathe
Will share thy destiny. The gay will laugh,
When thou art gone, the solemn brood of care
Plod on, and each one as before will chase
His favourite phantom; yet all these shall leave
Their mirth and their employments, and shall come,
And make their bed with thee. As the long train
Of ages glide away, the sons of men,
The youth in life's green spring, and he who goes
In the full strength of years, matron, and maid,
The bow'd with age, the infant in the smiles
And beauty of its innocent age cut off, --
Shall one by one be gathered to thy side,
By those, who in their turn shall follow them.
Happiness in life requires setting aside what we want, and allowing the uncontrollable forces of nature -- death, life, manhood, womanhood, the womb, the breast, the babe in the cradle -- to deal with us on their terms. For if we try to deal with them on our terms, even with the greatest intentions, we destroy things. Just log onto healthcare.gov or visit a surrogacy farm in Mexico to see what I mean.
The first African-American writer to publish a novel (Clotel) and a play (The Escape, or a Leap to Freedom) could understand better than anyone why Sarah Palin is right about slavery and ObamaCare. This writer's name was William Wells Brown, and he was a black slave to a white doctor. In The Escape, he describes in great detail the way that slaves were kept subjugated and hesitant about revolution, because white owners made them dependent on health care. It's Exodus and the fleshpots of Egypt. Freedom from slavery meant being worse off, in immediate material terms, for at least some decades, so that later generations could be better off in terms both spiritual and material. While he wasn't black like Brown, Bryant called those who cannot accept the vicissitudes of hardship and death "quarry slaves."
But don't take my word for it; read these classic writers. They can explain it better than I can.
Robert Oscar Lopez is author of Colorful Conservative: American Conversations with the Ancients from Wheatley to Whitman. He also edits English Manif.