“In every American community you have varying shades of political opinion. One of the shadiest of these is the liberals. An outspoken group on many subjects, ten degrees to the left of center in good times [and] ten degrees to the right of center if it affects them personally.”
These were the words the late folk singer Phil Ochs used in 1966 to introduce his sardonic song, Love Me, I’m A Liberal, a humorous and politically astute critique of individuals who profess to believe in progressive ideals, yet lack the courage and commitment to transform these ideals into reality. And the recent senatorial election in the so-called “liberal” state of Massachusetts confirms that Phil’s words are just as accurate today as they were over forty years ago.
History has shown, however, that the true Massachusetts bears little resemblance to its “liberal” image. This, after all, was the colony where numerous men and women were executed after being accused of witchcraft, and where Quakers were banished, beaten, tortured and even executed for preaching and practicing their faith.
Even after Massachusetts became a state (or more accurately a “commonwealth”) its legacy of intolerance remained largely unaltered: This is where wealthy bankers frequently threw impecunious farmers, many of whom were Revolutionary War veterans, into debtors’ prisons, ultimately provoking an uprising known as “Shays Rebellion”; where, in 1835, William Lloyd Garrison was dragged through the streets of Boston and almost lynched for promoting the abolition of slavery; where Ferdinando Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, two Italian immigrants, were executed in 1927 after Webster Thayer, the overtly biased judge who presided over their trial, denounced the men as “anarchist bastards” and claimed he would “get them good and proper”; where, during the 1970s, violence erupted over plans to racially integrate Boston-area schools; and where corrupt FBI agents sent four men, Joseph Salvati, Peter Limone, Louis Greco and Henry Tameleo, to prison for a crime they did not commit, while helping organized crime figure James “Whitey” Bulger evade capture.
And now the people of Massachusetts have successfully destroyed health care reform in the United States by electing Scott Brown, a Republican and opponent of reform, to the Senate seat vacated by the death of Ted Kennedy, a Democrat and proponent of reform.
Naturally the Republican party and its advocates—bought and paid for by the health insurance industry—are salivating over their so-called “victory.” Demagogic hypocrite Rush Limbaugh is heralding the “end of Obamacare”—the same Rush Limbaugh who was hospitalized in Hawaii just a few days ago. Sadly, karma did not compel this bloated, drug-addled, warmongering, draft-dodging coward to experience what millions of uninsured and underinsured Americans frequently experience—the fear of incurring the exorbitant costs of medical treatment and/or the risk of having their health insurance canceled simply because they sought such treatment.
And Arizona Senator John McCain is now expressing “hope” that health care reform is “dead.” Yet what he is really expressing is his hope that millions of Americans will remain uninsured, that thousands of these uninsured will continue to ignore symptoms of serious illness until their conditions become terminal, that thousands of children will continue to suffer and die because their parents cannot afford adequate prenatal care, and that thousands more will continue to lose their health insurance because of corporate “outsourcing” and “downsizing.”
Yet, as Phil Ochs also stated, “What can you do when you’re a helpless soul, a helpless piece of flesh, amid all this cruel, cruel machinery and terrible, heartless men?”
There are two things: First, the people of America, and the world, can boycott the state of Massachusetts. Since a majority of its citizens voted to deny adequate health care to millions of their countrymen, there must be a commensurate campaign to deny economic health to them.
Second, America’s children, and their children, must ensure that history damns for all time people like Brown, McCain, and others of their ilk for the untold suffering and countless deaths they caused through their destruction of health care reform.
Although opponents of health care reform in America incessantly condemn it as “socialized medicine,” numerous other industrialized nations, even those who feel no need to trumpet their “Christianity” or “pro-life” sentiments, simply call it “civilized medicine,” viewing health care as a fundamental human right, instead of a luxury to be enjoyed only by those able to afford ever increasing insurance premiums.
As time passes, many current opponents of health care reform will undoubtedly proclaim that their opposition was “wrong,” the same excuse McCain used during his 2008 presidential campaign to explain why he had once opposed the creation of a federal holiday in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. And far too many Americans will applaud them for their belated “remorse,” unjustly forgetting those whose support for health care reform never wavered and the millions who suffered and died from the lack of it before these individuals experienced their pangs of “conscience.”
In previous Pravda.Ru articles, I expressed the theory that the habitual myopia of human nature causes history to behave like a pendulum perpetually swinging from overreaction to regret. Today many pundits regard the Massachusetts election as a reflection of the anger, frustration, and in some cases the bigotry, being felt by many Americans.
Well years ago another group of people, also fueled by the propaganda of demagogues and self-serving opportunists, were angry, frustrated, and infuriated by people they viewed as politically, socially or economically “inferior.” So they too voted for a change.
The year was 1933. The elected were Adolph Hitler and his Nazi party. And the rest, as they say, is history.
David R. Hoffman
Legal Editor of Pravda.Ru