Why the cheers mattered

I feel the need to follow up on my post debate thoughts. Specificially, I need to follow up on this:

One of my good friends is a pretty solid libertarian. He’s also a doctor. While I believe that there’s no chance he would ever let a patient suffer, regardless of his or her ability to pay, I also believe that he likely agrees with Rep. Paul here. He thinks that people should take responsibility for their lives. When we debate, I don’t doubt he’d hold that if a 30 year old who could get insurance decided not to purchase it when he could, then that 30 year old should own the repercussions.

And, on some level, I understand his feelings. They are consistent with his world view. Yet, as a human being, I know he couldn’t stand there and watch that 30 year old suffer. He’d hate it, but he’d give in.

But even when we argue in the abstract, and he tries to stand firm, he acknowledges his position leads to a undesirable outcome. He mourns the theoretical 30-year old, even as he argues that letting him go serves the greater good.

As I said, he’s my friend. I don’t demand everyone agree with my world view. In fact, while I disagree with Rep. Paul’s beliefs, I’m not angered by them.

What I’m upset about are the people in the crowd who cheer when Wolf blitzer asks, “should society just let him die?” Someone shouts “yes,”  just as Rep. Paul starts to answer, “no”. I think even he was taken aback. Go to about 1:00 and listen closely.

What disturbs me is the glee and excitement shown by people in the crowd, apparently delighting in the idea that society would let an American die. Not for committing a capital crime. Not for committing treason. They’d let him die for failing to buy health insurance – for making a bad decision.

I don’t think that we should make the penalty for that death; I really don’t think we should delight in that outcome.

These same feelings developed during health care reform. Many people wanted their side to “win” so badly that they began to delight in victory and the political game to a point they forgot that we were discussing very important issues with a human cost. We’re better than that. Politics is not an end to itself, it’s a means to achieve better outcomes for our country, whatever they may be. It’s still very early in this election. Let’s try and remember these are serious issues, and that real lives are in the balance.

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