Health care reform passes

So, against all expectation, the Democratic Party managed to hang together and finally pass the comprehensive health care bill.

As a lifelong Democrat, I am flabbergasted. I was certain they’d find a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory and fumble on the proverbial one-yard line. I’m glad to be disappointed, but this long, ugly process has exposed disturbing trends in this nation. It’s still possible that this will be the high-water mark of a great republic.

Though their target is incorrect, the Tea Partiers ironically have a point: the Republic does face a crisis. It’s not driven by phantasmical jackbooted insurance inspectors breaking into homes and dragging Grandma off to mythical death panels. It stems from the unholy matrimony among a slick ideological establishment; sensationalist, irresponsible, and manipulative 24 hour “news” media; and an angry, incoherent, willfully-ignorant populace. Though these people claim to revere the Founders, they in fact stand opposed to the core of Enlightenment democracy that was bequeathed to us: an informed and educated citizenry engaged in reasoned debate — with passion, to be sure, but never abandoning reason and never so cocksure as to assume that opponents must be enemies.

Considering that the Tea Partiers have labeled rule by majority vote “tyranny”, it’s hard to see how anything resembling the United States of America could survive their rage.  Their unifying feature is anger and it will burn everything it can reach.  And the Republican Party stands on the sideline and feeds it, a mixture of cynical arsonist and maniacal six-year-old.

How can a deliberative legislature — how can a functioning democracy — endure when one side has abandoned argument and evidence?  When one side decides that anything their opponents say must be untrue?  If one side locks itself in its own fantasy world and declares invalid any source that might challenge its funhouse-mirror self-reality?