Thursday, 13 August 2009

The War on Obama's Healthcare Reforms

Picture below is an obvious pun on Sarah Palin's "death panel" comment. The skeletons are meant to represent accountants, health insurance companies and wealthy Republicans.

Once again, the issue of universal healthcare has been heatly debated in every town hall across the United States. Not since Bill Clinton's healthcare reform package back in 1993 has the issue on healthcare divided the world's superpower.

In reality, what Obama is proposing isn't a healthcare system for all, but a federally financed health care plan for people who don't otherwise have access to one. Currently, 50 million Americans have no access to any form of health insurance simply because they cannot afford it. Obama's reforms will simply add on to the publicly funded healthcare programs that already exist in the United States, which include Medicare (for the elderly and disabled), Medicaid (which covers some of the poor) and Veterans Health Administration (for military service families and veterans). But of course, the thousands that have disrupted town hall meetings across the US and have protested against the reforms are unaware of what it is Obama is actually proposing, instead being fed on their usual diet of spin and lies from the American right, who have decried the reforms as "evil and Orwellian" and "socialist".

The harsh criticisms on the reforms have gone to the point where the right and FOX News have resorted to demonising the NHS. Sarah Palin's "death panel" remark reflects the untruthful criticism many Republicans have been making on the NHS. For example, they claim that the NHS denies people over 59 are heart treatment or women under 25 cancer treatment. Sean Hannity of FOX News suggested viewers to "get their super glue" ready if the healthcare reforms are passed, a reference to a Daily Mail article from 2006 which Hannity used as "proof" how the evil the NHS is and how much us Brits suffer from it. The news channel have also cherry-picked the handful of politicians and critics of the NHS to represent the views of Britain in general. One example is MEP Dan Hannan, who made an appearance on Sean Hannity's show back in April. The lies have gotten so ridiculous that a conservative journal claimed that Stephen Hawking would have had no chance of survival if he were British and treated by the NHS, failing to realise that Hawking is British, has lived in this country his whole life and has always received treatment by the NHS. They hurriedly corrected the mistake.

The ongoing debates on Obama's healthcare reforms have reflected the sheer hypocrisy of the American right. Jon Stewart of the Daily Show once again highlighted this by comparing FOX News commentary on the current town hall meetings with past demonstrations organised by the "loony left". It's perfectly fine when conservatives are out there demonstrating as they're fulfilling their duty as American citizens by enacting the right to freedom of speech , but it's evil and "un-American" when liberals do the same.The American right also claim to be the upholder of Christian values with issues such as abortion and gay marriage, yet are strangely unaware of the "love thy neighbour" principle when it comes to the issue of healthcare.

Is there an underlying tone of racism with these protests? Possibly. Some members of the American public that have expressed concern over Obama are frightened that the President is turning the country into the United Socialist States of America (which is utterly ridiculous as it sounds, because pretty much everyone that has accused Obama of being a "socialist" don't know the meaning of the word). However, many are worried about Obama simply for the fact that they're "just scared" of him. Of course, this can be interpreted in so many ways, but I can't help but think that they hate him because of the colour of his skin, that the accusations of socialism are nothing more than a disguise on what they really think of him. Many of those interrupting the town hall meetings at the moment are from the Deep South, an area where some still advocate the return of Jim Crow or even secession from the United States. Obama represents a new generation of Americans who didn't grow up in the days of segregation and Jim Crow and see past race and colour. It seems that the Angry White Man has made a comeback in American politics, but this time they've gotten uglyier, what with accusing the President of being an illegal immigrant, a Muslim terrorist and for apparently hating white people, among other things.
Maybe I'm reading too much into this? I don't know. I'm just horrified and sickened by how far the American right have gone to demonise the reforms. Glenn Beck, another FOX commentator that makes Bill O'Reilly appear like a senile old man, went as far to exploit his own young daughter (who has cerebral palsy) when comparing the Obama administration to Nazi Germany.

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