Health Care: Dividing and Conquering The Barbarians At The Gates

Barbarian Peanut by CHS.

What has struck me forcefully about the so-called "health care debate" is how little actual issues debate there has been.  And how much orchestrated noise from paid operatives has been ginned up to distract the public from the real prize: real reforms.

Bill Moyers has a profile up on Dick Armey’s Freedomworks astroturf extravaganza that needs viewing far and wide.

It illustrates a fundamental political operative truth: sowing dissent, even based on outright falsehoods, is a means to an end in a public divide and conquer strategy.  Something folks like Armey use to their moneyed clients’ advantage whenever possible because it is the way they earn their multi-million dollar Beltway living.

How so?

Think about the interests involved and their objectives for a moment: maintaining the status quo in health care means that the people making the money continue to rake it in, which means they can continue to dole it out on the Hill. People like Armey bring access on the Hill to the halls of power and that translates into valuable legislative inroads, for which moneyed interests pay handsomely.

In exchange for said donor largesse, keeping the angry public — who are clearly well and truly tired of feeling screwed these days — on the fringes of the discussion had to be a strategic priority.

The best means of doing that? Sow dissent that keeps the public’s eyes off the real ball, thereby throwing any chance at unity of purpose among the public out the window.

Why?  Because a unified public pushing for reform is what drives any substantive change this country ever sees.  It’s what gave FDR the ability to push through New Deal legislation and Wall Street regulations.  It’s what eventually forced an end to the Vietnam War.  It’s the engine that has driven major changes through our entire history.

And the forces of the status quo know that, fear it, and undermine it at every turn. 

Status quo means profit.  Change means instability which makes things tough to control or outright loss of profit, and that is not acceptable, now is it?

Whose interest is served by maintaining the status quo? Not the general public, especially not the folks who are already on the verge of losing insurance or who have none at all.

So how do you herd the sheeple? Scare the shit out of them, stoke their inner fears and prejudices, and exploit already rampant political divisions and hatred so that no one bothers to sit down and think, really think, about how the public’s common interests are decidedly not being served at the moment. 

And then? Divide up the K Street spoils while the riffraff scrape together money for higher premiums and fewer services and wonder where all their money is going these days.

It’s enough to make an already cynical gal even more so.

Strolling around the DNC in Denver last Fall, the thing that struck me most was how much money was seeping into every nook and cranny of politics. Big donors to the party had to stand in line with the rest of us schlubs to go through Secret Service security protocols, so I got my fair share of face time with folks in Gucci wedge peep-toes, DVF wrap dresses and Brooks Brothers suits while we all stood sweating in the Denver sunshine.  Albeit face time that resulted in a conversation that went nowhere because I was neither buyable nor pliant, and thus of no use to them.

When we entered the building, there were "hospitality suites" everywhere, including a big donor reception area right behind the blogger box with an endless string of electeds and their fundraising handlers coming over to shake moneyed hands behind curtained windows. (Clearly not curtained enough.)

As a certified card-carrying foul-mouthed fem blogger member of the riff raff, I wasn’t expecting surprises since politics has pretty much always operated in backroom deals and moneyed hands exchange pleasantries. But it was more meticulously organized and lavishly staged beyond even what my cynical self expected.

I am told by attendees of the GOP convention that it was the same and then some, with boxes sponsored outright by corporate largesse.  How could it not be given that Rick Davis and Charlie Black were helming the McCain campaign?

Politics in this country has always been a function of money changing hands, and big interests pitting their fundage and power against the voices of the public pushing back. 

The difference these days?  The public is a divided force pushing back against itself, being herded around by moneyed interests in opposing directions in order to maintain the way things are.

Talk radio and angry teevee yelling shows?  Bread and circuses.  Distraction keeps your eye off the ball, and venom keeps us divided which is right where they want us to be.

What to do?  Damned if I know. 

If the health care issue is so easily gamed, when so many people are impacted by a lack of real health care each year in this country?  Then there may be no real unifying issue out there for any of us. 

The public’s interest is best served when we all stand together and force change.  Anyone see that happening any time soon?

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