Maybe it has always been the case that we have a diverse set of opinions about how this country should be run. It is not the case that politics has always been as polarized as it is. Each party seems to be motivated by tearing down what the other party has accomplished instead of working together to come up with a better solution.
Let’s use the current healthcare debate as an example. The Affordable Care Act was put in place during Obama’s first term and mostly because he had a supportive congress. The legislation is not perfect. No one will disagree with that. There are definitely things that could be improved and are less than ideal. But the legislation does make it so that millions of people can get insurance that couldn’t before. This is a cost savings for everyone across the board. Any study you look at will show that the ER is the most expensive option for health care and does not address preventative care; unfortunately this was the last resort for many people because they couldn’t get insurance.
Now, it seems like the GOP is wanting to get rid of it, without having a replacement ready, just because the other party put it in place. There is going to be a systematic dismantling of many things just because it wasn’t their idea.
These political maneuvers impact people, real people. The repealing of this legislation is going to result in many people being without insurance, harm the insurance companies and everyone covered by them, and for what? Political clout?
You have people complaining that there shouldn’t be an individual mandate. Ok, philosophically I understand this. You shouldn’t be forced to buy something you don’t want. The reality though is insurance companies cannot succeed if the only people that sign up for insurance are sick. That’s precisely why they excluded people with pre-existing conditions. If healthy people don’t pay into the system to reduce everyone’s risks then the only thing that gives is rates need to go up for all of the members. This results in more people choosing to go without insurance and you see where this goes.
The only conclusion that I can draw is people in America have become more selfish than ever. No one is interested in the greater good, but what is good for me now. Trump’s entire campaign had this refrain going on. We don’t want (non-white) immigrants coming here because they take jobs. We don’t want Obama-care because I don’t want/need insurance. We don’t want free trade because “they” are taking things away from us.
We have become a country where we don’t care about the well being of our fellow citizens and humans because we view they are taking something away from “us”. The problem with this thinking is it further stratifies differences between groups and creates resentment and further unwillingness to help “the other”. If someone helps you, you are more willing to help them or help someone else in need. If someone ignores you when you need help, you are less likely to help someone else. I’m not saying that you should help people because it benefits you, but because it benefits everyone.
The other conclusion that I draw from all of this is we are no longer looking at the long view, only what is right in front of us. This is true with the health care debate, the vote for Trump, global conflict, economic policy and global warming. If the impact isn’t visible right now, or its going to result in me having inconvenience now for benefit later (especially if the impact is seen a generation from now), we aren’t interested. This is related to selfishness but it is more insidious because even if we are looking out for our interests, we are looking out for them now instead of the future.
We have too many problems that will require us all to work together to look out only for ourselves in the near term. We need to focus on what is good for the species long term. Our short sightedness is only going to impact our children, grandchildren, etc. Who wants to explain that we fucked up the planet and our country because we were only worried about what was right in front of us?