A Week Without Opinions, Day 4: Politics and Health Care


by Rachel Held Evans Read Distraction Free

So yesterday was the first day of my week without opinions in which I didn’t break a single rule! This gave me a little extra confidence this morning as I embarked on what I knew would be a particularly challenging day.

I had two opinion-less interviews scheduled for today—one with a conservative friend regarding politics at 11:30 a.m. and one with a Reformed pastor concerning Calvinism at 4 p.m. (I’ll let you know how my talk with the pastor goes tomorrow.)

"Sabrina" on Politics:

My first interview was with a dear friend, who for the sake of anonymity, would prefer to be called Sabrina.  Sabrina is married to a longtime friend of my husband’s and is the mother of two beautiful little girls. 

Sabrina readily admits that she is not an expert when it comes to politics. In fact, she generally avoids politically-charged conversations altogether because people like me tend to get impatient and talk right over her, which has led to hurt feelings. This is precisely why I chose to interview Sabrina. In the past, I have not extended to her the basic courtesy of listening attentively to her point of view. I felt that she of all people deserved the chance to take advantage of my undivided attention, something I hope to give more willingly even after this experiment is over.

Sabrina describes herself as a conservative who generally votes for Republicans, although like most of us, she rarely agrees with a candidate on every single issue. She says she grew up listening to Rush Limbaugh, and that she gets most of her information regarding policy and politics from Fox News and Sean Hannity. In the 2008 election, she voted for John McCain because she preferred his positions to Barack Obama’s on the issues that were most important to her, such as abortion, taxation, and health care. 

“Obama is a good speaker, and he comes across as really polished and well-educated,” Sabrina said. “I can see how he could easily sway people. But I had a lot of questions about his policies.”

Sabrina said that because she was pregnant with her second child during the election, pro-life issues took on a whole new dimension.

“I believe that life begins at conception both biblically and scientifically,” Sabrina said. “I fear that many women are simply not provided with enough information about their options, and so they choose abortion because they think it’s the only way out of a difficult situation.”

Sabrina acknowledges that even judicial intervention would not end abortion completely, but says she would still prefer a president who at least shares her conviction that life inside the womb is worth protecting.

Regarding taxation, Sabrina said she would like to see much less of it, even to the point of getting rid of the IRS entirely.

“Why should a person who has worked hard to earn a living be forced to give money to those who do not work as hard? Why should the government decide that I owe money to the guy going to Health and Human Services every afternoon to pick up his unemployment check? The Bible specifically says that if you don’t work, you don’t eat. I think that if the government were taking less out of our paychecks we would be more inclined to give to charities and other organizations that help others.”

Sabrina said her biggest concern presently is that congress will pass a health care bill that will “socialize medicine.” She said she believes that health care is a privilege, not a right, and that the government should stay out of health care entirely—no government subsidized plans, no government regulation of the insurance companies.

“America has the best health care system in the world,” she said. “Government intervention will just bring the quality down and put doctors and insurance companies out of business. People should be responsible for getting insurance on their own, and if they don’t have insurance, they can go to the ER to get care.” 

Although the interview with Sabrina went well, I did slip up right at the end. As I was about to leave her house, I reached the front door to find the doorknob encased with a plastic guard. “Boy, do I hate these childproof doorknobs!” I said as I struggled to get out. “Oh shoot! That’s an opinion!”

We both laughed. I managed to get through an entire conversation about politics without interjecting a single opinion, but was thrown off course by a piece of plastic!

***

O’Reilly on Health Care:

Knowing that I would be interviewing Sabrina, I committed to spending the first few days of the fast breaking from my normal news-gathering routine in favor of exposing myself to those news sources and TV personalities that Sabrina prefers. I must admit that this was difficult at times.  However, in the spirit of the fast, I thought I’d share what I found to be the most compelling perspective on health care presented on Fox News this week. It’s from Bill O’Reilly.

In his talking points on July 16 (saw a re-run on Sunday night), O’ Reilly admitted that we desperately need to fix health care because people are getting hosed by insurance companies and high costs. He said that he did not think that Obama’s plan would work because it costs too much and that paying for it through higher taxes on Americans making $280,000 + per  year is just part of Obama’s plan for massive wealth distribution. According to O’Reilly, such a tax increase could possibly raise the overall income tax rate for millionaires to 45 percent— the highest since 1986—and that it still couldn’t pay for universal health care.

In presenting an alternative, O’Reilly pointed to Switzerland, where all citizens are required to have health insurance, but the government does not pay. Instead, the government regulates the industry to make sure there is no gouging and that prices are fair. Swiss citizens who cannot afford to get insurance are provided healthcare by the government.  O’Reilly argued that the key to health care reform is oversight on costs, punishing frivolous lawsuits, and setting up clinics for the poor. Having been to Switzerland himself recently, he said that the Swiss system “worked much better than ours.”

***

So, what do you think? Everyone’s talking about health care these days. Do you think health care is a right or a privilege? Do you support any government action in response to rising costs and the increased number of un-insured Americans? If so, what kind of intervention? What do you think about the bill being discussed on the House floor right now? Have you encountered a particularly intelligent, comprehensive approach to dealing with health care?

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