The First Amendment protects our freedom of expression. The Second Amendment allows us to keep and bear arms. Thanks to our Constitution, we have the right to carry guns to a town hall protest, or to pass gas in a crowded elevator. Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.
Let me present a theory that even the strictest creationists might accept. I believe that the various species of cable news pundits all evolved from a lower life form, specifically, the radio disk jockey. As a matter of full disclosure, it should be noted that I briefly had my own show on the campus radio station back in college.
In broadcasting class we learned about Section 315, the equal time rule, intended to preserve the American tradition of agreeing to disagree, and to prevent broadcast outlets from distorting the political process. Unfortunately, intelligent debate leading to acceptable compromise is not always entertaining. In the hands of disc jockeys, equal time evolved into an extremist shouting match, and since the tail wags the dog, our Congress now resembles a clown college.
The media types are not the only ones at fault. Western Kansas parents spend a lot of money to send their beloved offspring east for four years. No matter what else they might learn, those kids return firmly convinced that KU is good and K-State is bad, or vice-versa. When our children have been coached in such a simplistic view of the world, it is then easy to convince them that Republicans are good and Democrats are bad, or vice-versa. Instead of our government, as a whole, being accountable for its promises and productivity, politicians just blame their failures on the other team. College graduates, sans indoctrination, should be smart enough to reject this scam.
So you find yourself opposed, or at best skeptical, regarding the current attempts to reform health care. Instead of storming around with your gas-powered semiautomatic, or jabbering paranoid ideations like one of Rupert Murdoch's trained chimps, allow me to offer you a real world illustration. Simply ask your honorable debate opponents to take a look at what a government insurance program has done to the citizens of Garden City, Kansas. For the sake of this argument, we will need to assume that our lawmakers really do try their best.
You will need to believe that the legislators who wrote the bill that created the Federal Emergency Management Agency envisioned a group of workers who would help Americans in times of crisis, rather than a gang of extortionist thugs.
Several years back, I ordered some books for a customer from the U.S. Government Printing Office. As I often did with small orders, I paid with a credit card, only to discover later that I had been overcharged.
When I was finally able to talk to an actual human being, there in the government, she said something about me "applying for a refund." I eventually contacted the local office of Sen. Nancy Landon Kassebaum, and more than a year later, I got that little bit of money back.
Some members of Congress seemed befuddled and even genuinely hurt by the level of hostility that they encountered in those town hall meetings. While the road to health care may be paved with good intentions, when the well-meaning Dr. Frankenstein lost control of his creation, the villagers became enraged. Insurance reform is just the tip of an angry iceberg. Take off your senator suit, disguise yourself as a commoner and come on out here where the end users live. It will then be easier to understand why "government" and "care" don't always belong in the same sentence.
With the exception of one person who is thankfully no longer in office, I have taken more shots at Sen. Sam Brownback over the years than any other politician. Here's the deal, Sam. My credit card story will hopefully illustrate how tenaciously stubborn the bureaucracy can be. It's going to take more than a few sound bites, and I can't promise that I will ever love you as much as I do Sen. Kassebaum Baker, but if you will hang in there until FEMA climbs down off my neighbors' backs, I promise to stop talking bad about you — unless I really need to. Someone in that outfit needs to be fired — just to get their attention. If our elected officials can't control their own employees, then there's no reason why any legislative creation, regardless of party, should have credibility.
John Dailey, a Telegram contributing columnist, is the owner of Sandhill Books. E-mail comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.