In the wake of Huckabee's victory, Rush Limbaugh today began his program by saying that the result in Iowa shows how conservatives say they want candidates who share their values and then don't vote for them. Then Rush launched into another rant about how the anxieties over the economy are trumped up by the media, and that conservatives appear to be buying it.
Not only were Limbaugh's comments superficial and off the mark, but he himself is the last person who should be preaching to the middle class, much less the poor, about angst. His question shows why: what to you expect one person to do, he asked?
Here's the problem that you have and Rush doesn't, and I hope you'll forgive me for using my personal situation, but If someone would have told me when I was starting out that I would have what I have today, I'd have been thrilled and anxious to get here. Because back then, I would have considered my current situation to be well-off if not rich. But along the way, something happened and it involves inflation coupled with the loss of some factors that made America great.
Part of it is due to the two income household – people didn't understand (and it wouldn't have mattered if they did) that when one family suddenly gets two incomes, they get ahead, but when everyone does it, inflation eventually negates short-term, temporary benefits. And worse, it becomes difficult to impossible to go back. So now, both people have to work and they have even bigger debts. They're more trapped than ever.
One of the biggest issues, and more seem to be aware of it, is one I've been harping on (and getting nowhere) for years – healthcare. It's simply unconscionable that people's lives get ruined when they get sick – even if they recover. Fifty percent of bankruptcies are the result of medical bills. And when it happens later in life, there's no time or means to start over.
And if you aren't sick, you have to anticipate being so – but you can't. That is to say, you can't squirrel away enough to be sure you're OK in a crisis. So I'm OK as long as I don't get sick, but the likelihood is, somebody in the family won't be so lucky, and you both (or all) will be ruined. And this doesn't even begin to address the very real problem that even with insurance, people often run into walls when their insurance refuses to cover and pay for treatments.
So in this day and age when treatment and cures are better than ever, you find yourself praying that you never need them because if you do, life as you'd known it could be over.
And no one will help you then.
Or perhaps I should say; it will be the rare person who can get enough help to get back to where he was.
So when Rush rails against universal healthcare, he's both right and wrong. It's not only not the answer, but we don't want to substitute one misery with another, especially when relatively few people experience health catastrophes, but everyone would experience the universal healthcare catastrophe.
What Rush Limbaugh really doesn't seem to understand is that America is becoming a house of cards. Thoreau said that people lead lives of quiet desperation. Today, in the age of media, it's not so quiet. Now I've said that I don't know how people even existed before the twentieth century, but the fact is, most everyone was in the same boat. There weren't miracle cures and when you had little, you couldn't fall as far.
Today you can have a lot of things and still have nothing – or less. I mean, they won't take your DVD player in bankruptcy, but they will cut off your power and staring at a player is not nearly as enjoyable as staring at the output of a DVD.
So I think people are voting for people who, they think, strike a reasonable compromise between conservatism and compassion, and in that, with whoever they get, he (or it) is likely not to meet their expectations. Because the answer to everything (and it may not be a good one, but it is the best one available) is the free market. And the more collectivism disrupts that market, the worse things become and the harder it is to reopen the market to competition without serious implications for people who have come to rely on government for assistance.
In the area of healthcare, that means that medical savings accounts beat universal healthcare. And individual bargaining with doctors beats insurance coverage for ordinary events, but some one individual needs to stand up and demand reform and then find a way to make access to healthcare both private and universal – because every individual has worth, and no one should die in the street – or beg from it.
My whole approach is to do things that affect change without disrupting the desirable parts of what we currently have. The individual spirit remains strong, but government has become an impediment, and this is despite the fact that a Republican has led it 70% of the time over the last 28 years.That's because the Bushes are closer to Clinton than Reagan, and even Reagan was Reagan in his later years, and no current candidate has staked his claim on any meaningful reform. From what I can tell, any "solutions" they have proposed will only make matters worse.
At the end of his program, Limbaugh continued to decry the movement away from rugged individualism and toward collectivism as he tried to portray himself as no different from you and me by saying that he had the same sort of problems, as he mentioned a list of household defects such as broken doors and ant infestations. Then he added that when he has a problem, "I FIX IT!"
I'd bet my now modest estate that when Limbaugh has a problem, he has someone else fix it and that he regards that as the same as if he did it himself. But it's nothing of the kind. And he probably fixes things a lot faster simply because he doesn't do it himself. But if you called him on this, he would probably say that he once had nothing and that you too can become rich if he did, and while there is some truth to that, it's not true that everyone can become rich, and even if they could, it doesn't solve immediate needs or the fact that a lot of people will be ruined in the interim.
That's why conservatives are anxious and even demoralized, Rush. They still believe in the individual, but the rich are getting richer, and the average guy is standing still or going backward, and instead of scolding those people, Rush, you should be leading the way in both formulating and promoting new ideas for the middle class and the poor to build wealth and live with a measure of security instead of fear.
People expect setbacks, they fear ruin. They can control setbacks, they are often helpless in catastrophe – and alone. And in America today, it's become all or nothing, and no one has the time to worry about anyone but himself. Things are out of control. Liberals are primarily responsible (even if well meaning), but all conservatives do is whine about it. Like why can't I just buy the channels I want on my cable? And am I willing to cancel my cable in protest? Of course not – because YOU won't. I may be rugged, but not that rugged.
Oh jeez, now Hannity is picking up where Limbaugh left off… who educates the leaders?