2009-09-04 / Columnists

The Progressive

Random Thoughts
Commentary By John Paul Culotta

When school bells ring, and the barbecues begin to be put away for the winter, and the labor day sales and parades are over, most of us then seriously return to normal. This summer most Americans reflected on the economy and the state of our health care delivery system.

What is evident is that many Americans are troubled by our debt, our place in the world, the role of government in our lives, and whether our nation can survive with or without reform of some of our cherished beliefs.

Our nation has been blessed and cursed with many similar crises. Why all the fear and angst? Americans will become a stronger nation if we face our problems with a resolve to cooperate as a people.

We must use the power of courage not fear when addressing the issues of war and peace, economic disparity, and how to ensure adequate health care for all citizens.

Debate recently has become too partisan and nasty. It is dangerous when the marketplace of ideas is distorted by hysteria, calumnies, half truths, and name calling.

Calling our president a socialist or Nazi in the same debate appears to me an exaggeration of what both labels entail. Calling our president a racist is also uncalled for.

We can disagree without being disagreeable. We can oppose ideas promoted without shouts of insults. Questions should be questions, not inflammatory accusations.

"Be not afraid" was the slogan Pope John Paul II used when addressing crowds of young people. Fear, hate, and lies can motivate crowds. At the same time, such political tactics often lead to violence. Appealing to the better instincts of men should not only be relegated to religious leaders.

An overwhelming number of Americans want some sort of reform in the health care delivery system. Too many Americans are not covered. Most bankruptcies are caused by debts that are incurred by illness. The Republican party needs to address these issues.

Our nation is heavily in debt and addressing the needs of Americans and not just corporations must be the paramount concern of our leaders. If Americans join together we can resolve our common problems.

Some of us may be called upon to make sacrifices. In the past we have been willing to shed blood to safeguard our liberties. We should be able to speak frankly and with respect to each other. In the past many progressives have been guilty of uncivilized discourse. This does not justify the behavior of the 'Birther' Movement, some pro gun advocates, and the distorters of truth on the right.

Democrats also bear a burden to clearly explain the complexities of their proposals regarding health care. Too often the people of this nation have felt betrayed by the political establishment. The Republicans have a simple message and that is: the government should not be involved in the health care industry. We know the government is already heavily involved.

It is up to the Democrats to come up with a concise and cogent message that addresses the cost, availability, and portability of coverage. As the temperature drops, let the cool civilized debate begin.

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