Thank you, Hillary Clinton!
Reaching back through the mists of time, I am remembering the midterm elections of 1994. As the returns came in, ABC's Peter Jennings was compelled to accuse America's voters of throwing a temper tantrum for giving the GOP control of Congress for the first time in over forty years. I was later triggered to laugh so hard that I almost fell off my bicycle while riding on a major road.
Two issues in particular conspired to push the results. The first was the congressional check-kiting scandal — where the members' captive post office was used as a money laundry and ATM. The other was much more political. First Lady Hillary Clinton was tasked with "reinventing" health care.
She held a series of secret meetings with alleged experts...thus invoking profound suspicion among much of the electorate. Then, like a bomb, the resulting package was dropped on the public. Beyond extensively micro-managing what was already a rather complicated business, Hillary's brain child went so far as to outlaw private practice. Such high-profile garbage gagged even the Democrat Congress. After Newt Gingrich became House speaker, I mused that the Republicans should erect a statue of Hillary on the Capitol grounds...in tribute to such a significant benefactor.
But she wasn't finished. After carpetbagging into the vacated Senate seat of Daniel Patrick Moynihan, she was drafted by President-Elect Obama into a stint as secretary of state. Then, after languishing in the political wilderness for a while, she finally got the Democrat presidential nomination more or less by default. Huh? Beto? Bernie? Really? Hardly anyone other than Hillary could've lost to such a complete novice as Donald J. Trump.
Thanks, Hillary, for paving the way for the Trump presidency. For his part, Mr. Trump made a serious suggestion that would've profoundly rationalized health care in the U.S.: providers should have published price lists. Restaurant menus usually show the prices of their offerings. Stores show the prices of their merchandise. Even car mechanics gladly estimate in advance the costs of repairs, broken down between parts and labor. Why shouldn't hospitals and clinics also show what the charges will be for various standard procedures and days of in-patient care...in advance?
After recently breaking an arm, I learned a lot more about this. My provider billed me $95 and billed Medicare $12,000 (which included $675 for an EKG that took about 10 minutes plus about $5 of stick-on sensors). I talked to a friend, who's now retired from being medical director of an HMO (AKA billing dispute referee). He told me that my provider had no expectation of getting the full twelve thousand — it just has to ask for it. It's a game, plain and simple.
What Trump did accomplish, that may well have changed America's destiny, is that he pried the lid off the Pandora's box of political secrets. The current turmoil is due to the continuing awakening that only someone from outside the political establishment could have provoked. The real "woke" are the folks who've just gotten better at recognizing government-media attempts at creating false versions of reality. An old truism is that a conservative is just a former liberal who's been mugged by reality. I would add that this is not an event, but rather a process.
A recent and conspicuous convert appears to be House speaker Kevin McCarthy. Though he was always a Republican, it was commonly thought that he was just a Mitch McConnell clone. Maybe Speaker McCarthy was always a true movement conservative, but he hid his lantern under a blanket to avoid being marginalized by the swamp-rat establishment. Nonetheless, he's been doing the Lord's work right out of the box.
And, in all fairness to Mitch McConnell, he went the extra mile to keep Merrick Garland off the Supreme Court. This is a beau geste comparable to preventing Dr. Kevorkian from becoming a paramedic.
Wafting up from beneath the cacophony of political exhortations is the pungent hint of desperation emanating from the progressive stalwarts. From Al Gore's "boiling oceans" to the movement to ban gas stoves, and now furnaces and water heaters, the lefties are popping off with political kamikaze efforts to rally the true believers. They continue to deceive themselves in assuming that ordinary folks are more than willing to follow absurd directions.
Self-interest is the unalterable basis of a free-market economy. It is also the basis of freedom in general — though requiring members to refrain from trespassing on the freedom of others. Natural gas is (ahem) natural. It oozes up from the bowels of the earth. Arbitrarily making life more miserable for one's constituents is not a path toward political success. But these folks have become slaves to silly fads...and do not have the knowledge or intelligence to figure this out.
Image: Gage Skidmore via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0.