Republican vs. Republican

There he was on Christmas Eve on the TV news: Arizona Senator John Kyl, pumped with anger, calling the just passed Senate health care reform bill "a massive, very bad assault on liberty." You got to ask, whose liberty is he so concerned about? The insurance companies "liberty" to gouge us, cut benefits, exclude those who might really need coverage, and tell us in the middle of treatment that our policy won't cover any more medical care?

You hear these right-wing characters and their tea bagger friends throwing around terms like "liberty, freedom, and special interests" and you got to wonder.

But of course it's a class thing and these Wall Street stooges understand it very well. For them liberty means deregulation, tax breaks and bail outs for the banks and the rich. Freedom means no Employee Free Choice Act that might give workers a real voice at work and limit arbitrary corporate power. And special interests are unions, civil rights organizations, immigrant rights organizations, women's organizations, environmental organizations, and any other mass people's organizations that might interfere with capital's maximum ability to exploit and dictate. Democracy just seems to bring out millions of these pesky types of taxpayers.

But what really struck me about Kyl's ringing cry of liberty was how these right-wing Republicans today always seem to quote Ronald Reagan and not Abraham Lincoln. I mean if you're going to boom out ringing rhetorical flourishes, why not quote in the spirit of the greatest Republican of them all? Ronald Reagan went from acting for GE to action on behalf of GE. Lincoln actually did something about liberty and freedom.

But when you think about the health care debate and then you think about my favorite Lincoln quote, you know why Lincoln just doesn't fit the Republican agenda today. Abraham Lincoln said:

"Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration."

In today's popular discourse Lincoln might have substituted "Main Street" for labor and "Wall Street" for capital - but you get the point. If Kyl and his ilk were saying it today they would just reverse "labor" and "capital" in the quote.

And what do these "extremists in defense of  (corporate) liberty" have to say about "certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." today? It sure seems to me that any reasonable interpretation of an unalienable right to life would include the right health care.

Photo: http://kyl.senate.gov/

Post your comment

Comments are moderated. See guidelines here.

Comments

  • Actually Marx and Lincoln did correspond and Marx urged Lincoln to recruit slaves and former slaves to fight for the Union - as Lincoln did

    Posted by Scott Marshall, 01/05/2010 4:40pm (5 years ago)

  • Brother Scotty,this is an excellent article.
    If any people has "earned"an unalienable right to life including the right to health care,it has been the working people,including the great African American people,who in Lincoln's time was commodity in its most stark,naked,exploited and oppressed form,slave.
    Working-class partisans,like the great American Douglass,and the great German Marx,were very active in the struggle,with Lincoln,to change this condition.
    As we agree,only through exposing,out voting,out flanking and out thinking public enemies like Kyl will we be able to of,by and for working people regain and expand the gains of the post-Reconstruction era of universal voting,universal education and universal civil and human rights,including the right to health care.

    Posted by E.E.W. Clay, 01/01/2010 3:00pm (5 years ago)

RSS feed for comments on this page | RSS feed for all comments