Underneath my yellow skin

Tag Archives: governance

A Little Bit of Schadenfreude

That’s a nice Congress you have there. It would be a shame if anything happened to it.

That’s what I imagine this president said to Paul Ryan before placing a horse head on his pillow while they were discussing the healthcare bill.

To summarize, the Republicans in the House placed forth a truly heinous healthcare bill that was noted for cutting taxes for the wealthy. They tried to “improve” it by cutting maternity care and birth control, among other things. There’s a picture that circulated on Twitter of the veep joining other old white dudes in discussing these cuts. Here’s one tweet about it.


A picture is, indeed, sometimes worth a thousand words, and this one shows in stark relief the reality of sexism in action. Not one of those men will ever have to deal with the topics they are discussing, but it’s one of the problems with living an entitled and privilege life. You think your feelings and thoughts on an issue are all that matter, and you can’t fathom anyone would disagree.

I digress.

On Thursday night, the president threatened the House GOP by saying if the bill didn’t pass on Friday, he was going to take his balls and go home. He didn’t want to do that stupid healthcare bill, anyway! That’s the thing with this president–he’s a big baby who needs to be constantly coddled. Also, side note, but his brand is that he’s a winner. He talks about it constantly. He’s tough, and he never quits until he gets what he wants. In this fisticuffs, he threatened to quit when it appeared the Republicans couldn’t get the bill passed. Winners don’t quit! That’s what losers do! It’s completely in keeping with his personality, however, as he’s never had to really work for anything in his life. Have you looked at him? He looks miserable. This job ages everyone who holds it, but it’s really done a number on him.

I’ve contended from the start* that he never wanted to be president. I think he entered the race for a laugh and a giggle, and then when he realized that he could actually win, his competitive side took over. When he won, he realized he would actually have to be president, and the panic set in. I would bet he never thought of the actual job when he was imagining being president. He just dreamed of the glory and the world-wide fame. Remember the pictures of him meeting with *sob* President Obama in the White House before he (our current president) was president? He looked bewildered and befuddled, not to mention a little bit bored.

I’m guessing he was one of the most ill-prepared men ever to enter the White House, and he hasn’t shown any evidence that he’s gotten any better. Anyway, the healthcare bill was supposed to be his stamp on the office and a way for him to show up PBO. When it became clear that it was all falling to pieces, he didn’t know how to deal with it. So, he did what he always does in these situations–he threw a temper tantrum. “Do it MY way, or I’m not playing any longer!” It would be amusing if the consequences of it weren’t so goddamn terrifying. He is the leader of the free world, for fuck’s sake, and the best way of dealing with him is to give him his binky and make him take a nap.

Anyway, the healthcare bill was an utter disaster, and the House Republican leaders pulled it. I can’t help but feel a little schadenfreude, but it’s tempered by the knowledge that these people don’t care if they kill off their fellow humans as long as they can save rich people and corporations a few bucks. The thing is, though, they’ve been the party of “block everything Obama does” for the past eight years, and their biggest goal was to repeal/dismantle Obamacare. By the way, the fact that Obama embraced the name was a smart move on his part. It would have been folly for him to try to fight it, and, yes, there are still some idiots who think Obamacare is a bad thing, but for the most part, it’s just accepted as an alternate name for the ACA.

I’ve always thought that the Republicans didn’t want to actually be in charge because they’re better at obstruction than governance. Hell, they hate the government and think it’s not good for anything, which is weird to me. Why would you do a job you thought shouldn’t exist? But, humans are capable of a great hypocrisy, and they’ve shown that in spades. They also display an astounding lack of compassion or empathy for the people they are governing. I’ve long since believed that anyone who wants to be a public servant should have to live a year in the life of their most indigent constituents to see what it’s like. Actually, I’ve been advocating for this for decades. I used to do diversity training for the county, and I quickly realized how useless it was. It’s hard to teach people what it’s like to be a minority because oppression is often a negative. What I mean is, it’s something that happens to, say a person of color, that doesn’t to a white person. So, since the white person never experiences it, they can’t fathom it actually happening.

My conclusion was that only total immersion would work. At the time, I joked that we need to build a town filled with people of color and then have the white employees live in it, but only a few at a time. It was a joke, but the core idea is sound. Immersion works when you’re trying to learn a language, and I think it could work to help someone understand oppression better. I had a roommate in college who went to an Asian event with me tell me afterwards that she had felt uncomfortable being one of the only white people there, and that was only after a couple hours.

This is what I would wish for any congressperson who talks about cutting Meals for Wheels or healthcare or other essentials: Take away their healthcare (which they get for life as a congressperson) and their pay. Give them minimum wage, a mortgage, and car payments. Tell them they have to live that way for a year. I bet they would change their tune really damn fast. The problem is that they don’t have any empathy or compassion for other people. I got into a debate on Facebook the other day about empathy versus compassion, and the pros and cons of each. I think it’s good to feel empathy to a certain point, but if you’re unable to do that, then compassion is another path to doing good work. To me, empathy is second nature. I can put myself in someone else’s shoes fairly easily, but I can understand that others aren’t able to do it. You shouldn’t have to be able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes in order to want the best for them, however, and Republicans seem remarkable unable to do either. Which is surprising because they’re nominally Christians.

Compassion is not a popular virtue. Very often when I talk to religious people and mention how important it is that compassion is the key, that it’s the sine-qua-non of religion, people look kind of balked and stubborn sometimes, as much to say, “What’s the point of having religion if you can’t disapprove of other people?”

–Karen Armstrong

This quote gets to the heart of what I think modern Christianity is for too many people–the ability to look down their noses at others. I see that in the Republicans in Congress–the judging of others. They believe others need to be like them in order to be worthy of love. That’s not what their Jesus says, but I doubt many of them have actually read the entire Bible, especially the New Testament. They seem to see life as a zero sum game–if someone else is ‘up’, then they are ‘down’, and they use their religion to justify oppressing others. There are several verses in the Bible about being compassionate towards the less fortunate, including:

Do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.

–Zechariah 7:10

To my knowledge, there are no verses that say:

Get yours while you can and fuck anyone who is struggling. Stamp out those who do not agree with your worldview.

Anyone who is a follower of Jesus should know that he was firmly on the side of the underdog and the downtrodden, not on the side of the wealthy and the corporate. He talked endlessly about compassion and love and mercy, and yet, I see none of this in many prominent Christians today.

Again, I would laugh at how this president and the Republicans are at each other’s throats because I remember how much grandstanding Republicans did while Obama was president, except their haplessness is harmful to our country. I am a staunch Democrat, but I’m a human being first. I’m glad this bill was pulled because it would have been disastrous to millions of people, but I’m fearful of what the Republicans and/or this president will do to sabotage Obamacare in retaliation.

These are not well people. They should not be in charge of running our country. Yet, they are and will be for the foreseeable future. That is no laughing matter at all.

 

*Of his campaign.