My family has always had a subscription to TIME Magazine, and because of that I've always had a weak spot for the magazine. Even though there are other, better written news magazines out there, and even though there are times that I want to slap the editors, I still come back to TIME. ("Time after time" is now stuck in my head...) So, when I saw TIME's newest issue on health care reform I had to pick it up and read.
As usual, the main article was 95% fluff with about 5% decent commentary/opinion, but it's the opinion articles that come after the cover piece that I'm always interested in. True to form, four pages later, an article written by Joe Klein, titled "Democracy's Discontent," takes on the issues and makes an elegant argument. Klein believes that the problems facing Obama are many, but two obstacles provide most of the resistance.
"One of the most difficult things to do in a democracy is react to a problem that is real, but not immediately threatening. Obama is trying to do this in two monster areas, health care and climate change."
Anybody that has studied American history knows that we're extremely practiced at ignoring problems until they are staring us right in the face. It's human nature. Why deal with something that we can deal with later?
The second problem Klein discusses is, in my opinion, a far more serious concern. Special interest groups are dominating and directing the conversation. That's not to say that special interest groups are a demonic hegemon in American politics. Such groups are vitally important, and provide outlets for individuals interested in solidarity and effecting change. What's at issue here is that these special interest groups aren't interested in the health of American citizens, but in the health of their own pocketbooks.
It's disingenuous to say that the current system isn't broken. One of the biggest reasons to keep the current system in place is to ensure that the individuals profiting off of current insurance policies continue to profit. Coupled with the fear and uncertainty that change always brings, we are looking at a political stalemate that will have far reaching ramifications, even beyond what we can currently envision.