One of Maryland’s new congressmen, Andy Harris, defeated his Democratic opponent by railing against universal “socialized” medicine. His opponent, Frank Kratovil, voted against the Obama health care bill, but that didn’t help him in the recent GOP sweep of incumbents. Even though Kratovil voted twice against the reforms, Harris pounded him because he wouldn’t commit to the new bill’s repeal.
Harris is an anesthesiologist who worked at Johns Hopkins Medical Center before becoming a state senator and now a congressman. His position is consistent with GOP goals to repeal the new health care law.
However, at a closed-door session to go over benefits, Harris made a fuss over the fact that his government-provided health care policy would not kick in until almost 30 days after his inauguration. He stood up at the session and complained. “This is the only employer I’ve ever worked for where you don’t get coverage the first day you’re employed.”
Pause for that to sink in. A beat…another beat…
The question must be asked—what planet does he live on?
He then wondered if he could buy coverage directly from the government to cover the gap.
Another pause. Another beat…
All jokes aside, the hypocrisy is magnificent. Either he has no clue what most people must go through to get coverage which, by the way, is generally quite a bit less comprehensive than the plan he and his family will be enjoying, or he thinks the government is exactly the same as a private business and that he is no more than a new employee. Both are egregious lapses in perspective for a newly-minted representative of—wait for it—The People.
If one is going to hold to a set of standards—for instance, the stated goals and aims of one’s chosen political party—it would seem incumbent upon one to be consistent about such commitments to policy and philosophy. If you believe that state-run, government-provided health care is a Bad Thing, then you should opt out of it, carry your own private insurance, and not be a hypocrite. But passive hypocrisy can even be overlooked in the face of the self-absorbed gall necessary to demand something you have campaigned to end for everyone else but yourself.
The GOP has a a suite of problems of this sort. Republicans regularly campaign on issues supporting standards they, as individuals, seem unable to support in their own lives. To be sure, with regards to bribes from big business, they have been working diligently to change the laws of the land to make it legal for them to receive payment for their votes, but they do hammer on ethics violations an awful lot, especially when they are in the minority. We have seen Republicans denouncing illegal immigration in the most strident terms who then turn out to have undocumented workers on their household payrolls. As for the much debated Family Values platform, it seems the loudest critics of everything from sex education to gay rights often have the most difficulty keeping it within the bounds of their much publicized “traditional” marriages.
I have said, half jokingly, for many years that the chief philosophical difference between Republicans and Democrats is that the former believe citizens are those with property while the latter believe citizens are anyone, regardless of income status, who lives here legally. Given the direction the GOP has taken combined with the personal ethics of many of its members, I now feel they see themselves as somehow privileged, a self-made ruling class to which the perks they very quickly and vociferously deny others ought to be theirs by right. I’ll admit this may be a bit over the top, but with blind mouths like Andy Harris they would have a difficult time proving me wrong.
But maybe that’s too complex. Maybe all we’re looking at is a generation of Boomers and Generation X narcissists, charter members in the Where’s Mine Party.