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Monday, January 24, 2011

HEALTH CARE, NOT WARFARE




The way to end war is to ensure democracy in the United States through the abolition of corporate "rights" that include the right to spend unlimited amounts for or against candidates of their choosing. When our Congress works for us, they will address the many problems that threaten the economic and moral survival of the United States.

The right of access to comprehensive health care in a single payer Medicare for All system will be a key victory that will be a benchmark for the restoration of  representative democracy and thus a critical step in the end of American war for Empire.

The debate over how to reform America’s dysfunctional health care system is providing a graphic illustration of what has gone so wrong in American politics that Congress cannot meaningfully address the many crises facing our country. The failure to address the basic goals of universal access and cost containment are the natural result of a Congress controlled by the very corporate interests that caused the crisis in the first place. Lobbyists for the medical insurance, pharmaceutical and corporate medical care provider industries have dominated the process from the outset. 

The politics of division have torn at the fabric of society in America, bringing us to the brink of economic, environmental, moral and political catastrophe. The endless political posturing in Congress between a paralyzed Democratic Party and a Republican Party that seems interested only in grabbing the helm of the ship of state that it sailed directly toward this dangerous reef is threatening the viability of the American experiment in democracy. The problem is less from the Senators who control the debate than from Party leadership, the corporate-controlled media and the naturally befuddled public who continue to elect the same politicians who represent these corporations.

While pundits on the left and right are gingerly tiptoeing around the edges of the problem, neither side is really addressing the elephant in the room: corporate personhood. This is the counterrevolutionary notion that corporations are entitled to Constitutional rights simply because they are referred to in the law as “persons,” the term used in the Fourteenth amendment that was intended to guarantee the rights of slaves then recently freed at a terrible cost in blood to our nation. Thus, an amendment intended to free slaves ultimately was used in a sense to make slaves of us all.

Corporate personhood is the doctrine established by an activist Supreme Court around the turn of the century that drastically altered the perception by the average American of what the founders of our nation had in mind when they established a democratic Republic. Because of the inevitably imperfect compromises embodied in the Constitution, brother fought brother in a devastating Civil War to end the abomination of slavery in America. Afterward, powerful corporations took advantage of the dominance of one Party to ignore Lincoln’s attempts at reconciliation and use his martyrdom to control the Senate. Jefferson himself had argued for checking the power of corporations in the Bill of Rights. Though wise but imperfect men toiled to perfect our new government at the Constitutional convention, ultimately their work was undermined by the duress of avoiding potentially fatal divisions within the new Republic. 

With this perspective, it is ironic to observe that the rise of factionalism we were warned against by George Washington, the Father of our country, has culminated in the formation of two Parties which no longer represent the people. Instead, they have come to put the interests of powerful corporations before their constituents. These soulless entities created in the pursuit of profit have used the politics of division to keep the American people fighting amongst themselves instead of uniting against the common foe that is corporate personhood. The money provided by corporations finances the insanely expensive Senate races that leave out most of the potential leaders who might otherwise represent people over private profit. It is no wonder that so many of our best and brightest have chosen to avoid political careers that have come to be assumed to be tainted by the stench of corruption.

The only realistic answer to this apparent conundrum is to admit that the two-Party system was a mistake from the start. Instead of assuming that we have no choice but to choose the lesser of two evils, we must understand that there is little risk in casting our votes for candidates from a third Party. Any Party that demands of its candidates that they refuse to accept tainted money from the hands of corporate political action committees (PACs) should be taken seriously. Instead of regarding their candidates with derision and suspicion, they deserve to be respected for the courage of their convictions. If we assume that they are expecting the impossible in asking for our votes, then we are falling into the trap of the self-fulfilling prophecy that has been laid for us by greedy CEOs who care not for the people of America, but for their own personal gain. The future of democracy is in our hands.

Rick Staggenborg, MD
Physicians for a National Health Plan


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