Under Whose Flag?
Recently, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the Affordable Health Care Act, otherwise known in the US as “ObamaCare”, is not in violation of the US constitution. And so incremental progress toward enabling healthcare to a broader portion of the US population will continue, at least until the Republicans have enough strength to mount a legislative repeal effort.
Much of the opposition to ObamaCare is centered on a constructed narrative that this health care plan brings the US closer to what Republican candidate Mitt Romney describes as “European socialism.” This despite Romney instituting a substantively identical plan in the US state of Massachusetts while governor of that state. Conservatives in the US and their followers use the term “socialism” with full knowledge of its pejorative connotations within American society. The term, whether this makes sense or not, conjures images for many Americans of Soviet gulags and the threat of communist world domination. This extends to members of more extreme political fractions seeing any government involvement in the economy as inherently bad. Such an unbalanced view, that considers more individualism and less collectivism unwaveringly good and the opposite necessarily bad, leads us where? To a lawless frontier town in the American west as the epitome of economic and political freedom?
In keeping with this childish narrative the Republican candidate for my local congressional seat in Ohio has been running TV ads showing him engaged in target practice with pistol while a speaker informs us that any form of gun control leads us incrementally toward the atrocities of the Holocaust. Similarly, political action committees have sometimes funded ads showing a wind blown Chinese flag behind an image of Barack Obama. Really? Is providing healthcare to more people through a government-initiated plan of some sort sliding the US closer to the atrocities of Mao? According to Mao: The Untold Story, by June Chang and Jon Halliday, Mao was responsible for the deaths of about 70 million people. Does allowing young people to be covered under their parents’ health plan until age 26—one of the many provisions of the new US health-care act—incrementally shift the US toward the starvation and death of millions? No! Such extrapolations are, of course, as ridiculous as suggesting one glass of wine is moving you indelibly toward alcoholism or writing one postcard is nudging you toward being a hapless writer.
Democrats are foregoing an opportunity at quid pro quo here—perhaps because they have more class than either their opponents or myself. An argument—albeit only slightly less ridiculous than Romney’s “European socialist” quip—could be posed that the Republicans are the real Chinese agents. First, there is the logical possibility of a not inconsequential overlap of motives and goals between the Republican party and the Chinese government. Take the expansion of the US money supply for instance. Speaking with the same voice as all the Republican candidates on Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and the practice of buying bonds as quantitative easing, Rick Perry suggested, “If this guy prints more money between now and the election, I dunno what y’all would do to him in Iowa but we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas. Printing more money to play politics at this particular time in American history is almost treacherous—or treasonous in my opinion.” With regard to a possible Chinese perspective on this lets consider the effect that US inflation (a possible result of expanded money supply) would have on the value of the huge sum of US Treasury bonds that the Chinese hold. According to the article “Inflation and the Redistribution of Nominal Wealth” by Matthias Doepke and Martin Schneider (2006, Journal of Political Economy). amongst the main losers from inflation are "…major bondholders” and the main winners are “...young, middle-class households with fixed-rate mortgage debt.” So an agile sophist could argue that the Republicans and the Chinese have common interests?
What about a money trail? It's hard to say because another recent Supreme Court decision in the US, the recent Citizens United case, allowed for virtually unlimited contributions to political campaigns and “political action committees” by corporations. Disclosure of the source of donations is not required to be immediately made. We do know that one of most notable recent contributors to Republican campaigns, one who is known, Sheldon Adelson, has a large business interest in Macao. Does this mean his contributions to Republican campaigns are meant to ingratiate the Chinese? Quite likely not. Certainly there is no evidence of this. But this is not the point. The reason having a romantic relationship with a subordinate at work is frowned upon is not because it can be proven that this subordinate is receiving special favors. Rather it is because there is the likely presumption upon the part of others that this might be the case. What we can, however, definitively conclude is that the whole US election environment is a bit of boladhbréan.
—John W. Goodell
John Goodell is a resident of Lakewood.
Resident of Lakewood