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Words from Winterbilt

The difference is timing - or is it differentiation?

Shannon Bohrer

(9/2012) We have two major political parties that are constantly vying for votes in order to be elected and run the government. These two parties have political platforms that explain their beliefs and, in theory, their platforms are supposed to be the model for how they would govern when in office. An argument could be made that both parties do not always follow their platform or do what they say they will do. I know this is shocking to many people, but there are times when politicians will say and do things that are inconsistent with their beliefs, providing the inconsistency offers them a benefit. Maybe the consistency is found when they say and do things that will benefit them, or the money that gets them elected.

It is also very common for both parties to tell you why you should dislike the other party. After all, if you dislike the other party you probably wonít vote for them. The reality is that both parties are often equally liked and disliked (well, sometimes more disliked than liked). The way each party explains to you how the other party is bad is often by differentiation. They explain why they are different and why the difference favors them. Differentiation is not always bad, nor is it unique to politics. Differentiation allows individuals to make judgments, and we are all judgmental, at least to some degree.

Being judgmental is really part of human nature and some people are just more judgmental than others. We make judgments everyday as to what to wear and what to eat according to our individual preferences. Our judgmental nature extends to our families, neighbors, coworkers and even politics. To some degree it is even natural for individuals to find fault with other individuals, especially ones that are not to their liking. Conversely, it is also seems natural for individuals to overlook faults and to make excuses for individuals they like. Being judgmental is part of the foundation for political posturing, to distinguish or differentiate the actions and beliefs of oneís opponent with oneís self. Each party tells us why they are better than the other party Ė but sometimes they may not really be that different.

Recently, the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act, which many refer to as the Obama Health Care Law. If someone listens to one party, the health care law is the worst thing in the world and will turn us into a socialist society. The other party denies this and says the law is good for the country and will eventually lower health care cost. Each part differentiates itself from the other , even with the same law. The question is how can two parties have such a different view on the same law? Sometimes, the answer is timing.

Universal health care was President Trumanís idea initially. It later became an issue under President Johnson, around the time when Medicare was enacted. According to many historians if President Nixon had not resigned, or been impeached, his administration probably would have passed a universal health care law. In the early 1990ís, when President Clinton was in office, his administration was looking to pass universal health care. In response, the Republicans put forth The "Health Equity and Access Reform Act of 1993," which had an individual mandate. The heart of the Act was an idea from the Heritage Foundation (a very conservative organization), who called it the "Assuring Affordable Health Care for All" Act, which included an individual mandate. Former speaker Newt Gingrich, along with many other Republicans, endorsed and supported the proposal with an individual mandate. More than twenty years ago, the individual mandate for the purchasing of health care insurance was a conservative idea, but supposedly today it will make us socialists? Of course, as you examine history, Social Security was going to make us communist and socialist. It was a very famous politician that later became president who predicted the country would be socialist if we passed Medicare. His television commercials showed tanks in a parade in Russia, as if that is what the United States would look like if Medicare passed. It didÖ and we didnít.

On another issue, in recent past, congress was going to hold the Attorney General in contempt of congress for not turning over internal documents. However, President Bush claimed executive privilege so that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and other white house officials did not have to testify. The democrats cried foul, that is, until the congress wanted to hold Attorney General Erick Holder in contempt. Apparently, timing is really important if you want to emphasize your differences.

We sometimes judge others in negative ways, because their actions, habits, words or beliefs are different than our own views. We donít like them because they are different. Itís quite sad when you think about it. In politics, that is the whole point: the other side is different and because they are different they are bad. But what is strange is when we differentiate and the difference does not exist, at least not to the extent they portend. Well it does if you count who is doing it, if that makes sense. Oh, also if the timing is right.

Sometimes we donít see with our eyes and we donít hear with our ears, instead we see and hear what we believe. It is therefore our own beliefs that we sometimes see and hear. As humans and individuals we do have differences and most of them are not bad, many times they are just different.

"Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclination, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence" John Adams (1735-1826)

This article in neither an endorsement nor a repudiation of the health care law.

Read other articles by Shannon Bohrer