I fell asleep as history was being made last night. Literally, on the sofa, while watching the debate on Sky TV's live streaming of CSPAN on one of their alternate channels.
It's a little anti-climactic, waking up this morning to read the results on Twitter, on blogs, on news sites I've clicked on, month after month, during this long slog to the history books.
Congratulations, America. The rest of the world isn't sure why you're so excited—after all, they've had universal health care for decades. And, in the case of many countries like Britain, it was the generosity of the US after World War II that made their own universal health care system possible. Even Iraq has benefited from US funds designated for their health care system.
So finally, America gets what even emerging eastern European countries take for granted: access to health care for all. No longer will Americans have the unique fear of losing their home when they get sick. Or losing the ability to go to the doctor for a cough when they lose their job. Or losing a baby when prenatal care isn't available.
But through it all I've lost a lot of respect for my fellow Americans. The rhetoric coming from Republican leaders yesterday was bombastic—Armageddon! Baby killers!—and downright stupid. Do they even know the definition of socialism? Totalitarianism? Deficit spending? Okay, that one they're familiar with, since they drove the deficit up to record levels with, among other things, their own attempts at health care reform—namely, the unfunded and donut-hole-ridden Medicare Part D.
I don't know if John Boehner and Eric Cantor and all the other Republicans who are now leading their party really believe the nonsense they're spouting, or if they're simply shouting out to the gullible tea party element of their party. Watching them come out on the House balcony yesterday with photos of Nancy Pelosi in hand and thumbs pointed down put me in mind of Evita Peron trying to sell snake oil. There were plenty of buyers among the tea party crowd, who seem to hate grandmothers as much as they hate niggers and faggots, because they went wild with anger.
Frankly, the lack of decorum in the debate left me disgusted. Imagine if a Democratic congressman had shouted "Baby killer!" to a Republican colleague who spoke in favor of the Iraq war. David Frum, a Republican speech writer who's become disenchanted with the conservative outrage, calls this the Republican Waterloo. And that was before Baby Killer (the shouter of which has yet to come forward, probably because even he's ashamed).
The "conservative entertainment industry"—the Rush Limbaughs, the Fox "News" anchors—have succeeded in making Americans angry enough to tune in, but in the process they've destroyed something precious. The reasoned arguments our founders envisioned have been replaced by ignorant rants. Decorum has been replaced by disgrace.
Americans were never blindly loyal to their leaders, not since George Washington turned down the opportunity to be called "King". But now they openly hate them, coyly wish them dead, and believe the government is ushering in Armageddon by offering health insurance to their neighbors.
Something right happened in America yesterday, but something very, very wrong is thriving. Congratulations, Fox News. May your days be numbered, as they say.