22 Days to Election Day

I’m attempting to post a brief meditation on the daily quote from my Election Day advent calendar. Today brings us:

The united vote of those who toil and have not
will vanquish those who have and toil not,
and solve forever the problems of democracy.
Eugene V. Debs

Would that it could be so!

The biggest puzzle of current electoral trends to me is the willingness of so many voters to vote against their best interests.

Legend has it that in the ’30s or ’40s, students of my alma mater, Dartmouth College, decided to rock the vote long before MTV encouraged such recklessness civic enthusiasm. Politics is very local in New Hampshire, with great power residing at the town level. College students leveraged their numbers and, to the great consternation of the town selectmen, voted to fund two projects: one, re-plumbing public water fountains so they would instead flow with beer; two, building a covered highway from Hanover to the women’s colleges of western Massachusetts.

Everyone over the age of 65 qualifies for Medicare. If Medicare were privatized, and vouchers given that the golden years set could use for private insurance, does anyone hold the illusion that insurance companies, relentless in their denials of claims, would suddenly become generous with the over-65 set?

And yet, hundreds of thousands of seniors are about to vote for an administration that would, if elected, put their ability to receive affordable healthcare at risk.

Do these people think their health is going to improve as they age? Make them a better risk for insurance companies? That insurance companies will suddenly become less determined to seek a profit at any price?

I can’t remember which pundit pointed this out, but it bears repeating, so pardon me if I do it with less eloquence or wit. The news story broke that the CEO of Papa John’s Pizza said the company would likely pass on to consumers the 15- to 20-cent increase per pizza that Obamacare coverage would “force” them to institute. In other words, providing health insurance to thousands of lower-wage workers would move the price of a pizza from $11 to $11.20.

Shouldn’t our reaction be Awesome, it only costs me 20¢ per pizza and thousands of people who didn’t have access to affordable preventive care will now get it instead of working while they’re sick to make and deliver the food I’m about to put in my mouth!

And yet, clearly, the CEO is hoping that enough people would consider an extra 20¢ per pizza such an economic burden that they’re willing to vote against better access to healthcare for a larger number of people in order for the shareholders of a pizza company to keep those profits to themselves.

We’re not asking for beer to flow like water, we’re asking for a reasonable level of government services and a safety net to keep our democracy strong. One day, all of the sleeping giants will wake, and realize the power we had all along.

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