Thursday, September 03, 2009

Redefining the End Points

The U.S. media is excellent at cutting off the left from political debates. That way the moderates look like the new left end and the so-called center keeps on moving to the right. For an example, take a look at a USAToday article on Obama's coming speech on health care. It begins by stating the problems he has (people don't want reform yadda-yadda, despite what the polls tell us). Then comes this:

As he enters what senior adviser David Axelrod calls the "eighth or ninth inning" of the debate, Obama is caught between liberals who want to revamp the insurance market with a government-funded "public option" and moderates who favor an incremental approach.

Both efforts have stumbled. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said the public option wasn't essential. Six senators seeking a compromise ran into trouble after one, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, urged his donors to defeat "Obama-care."

Note how suddenly wanting a public option is labeled a) liberal and b) an extreme end-point. The correct end-point in the debate was a single-payer health care system, but the media has successfully erased that a long time ago, despite letting all sorts of right-wing memes stand as truths.

Of course a government option is an incremental policy. That it has become the bugbear of our political classes as pretty surprising. I guess the wingnuts are still worth fearing and in power, despite being a minority in both houses of the Congress.

What does the reform mean without a public option? My simple answer: Nothing. For a longer explanation, read my AlterNet piece on this.