There's a civil war going on among Democrats in the so-called heartland.
Here in the Midwest, Democrats agree on most things. We were thrilled to usher in the first African-American president. We are largely pro-choice, we're OK with gay marriage, and we hate Rush Limbaugh with the passion of 10,000 suns.
, Democrats fall into two distinct camps.
Some of us, myself included, are skeptics. We believe the health care reform bills are so gutted and weak that it's better to just let them die and start over. We think the bill takes too long to take effect. Four years? That's plenty of time to get sick and go broke.
Plus, the bills leave too many loopholes for insurers. Premiums will be unaffordable for the middle class, many of whom are unemployed, had their hours cut, or are waiting for the axe to fall.
So that's the skeptics. In the opposite corner, we have the true believers.
The true believers assume any type of health care reform – no matter how ineffective – is better than nothing. They think we can "fix it later," like we did Social Security and Medicare.
Sorry, but I just can't find in the history books the part where Social Security and Medicare were once private companies that later got "tweaked" into full-scale government programs (also known as the public option).
The true believers say if we don't pass health care reform this year, there's this mysterious window that closes with all the finality of a pharaoh's tomb. Two decades will pass before Washington tackles health care again.
So how could two educated, liberal, compassionate people end up on opposite sides of the health care debate? I think it's because the Democratic Party plays to two demographics.
One is the have-nots – the poor, the unemployed, the people who figure they're next in line on the layoff list. They want health care reform that includes a public option. They know what their friends pay for COBRA, and they know they can't afford it. The have-nots are the skeptics.
The other Democratic demographic is the haves. Back east or out west, they might be actors, professors, telecom moguls or lawyers, but here in the Midwest they tend to be union members and government workers
The haves are fine with a four-year lag time for health care reform to kick in because, unlike their private-sector counterparts, they have job security. While private companies handed out pay cuts and pink slips, government workers continued to get raises and generous benefits
On health care reform, the haves are the true believers. They are optimists. And why not? I too might be an optimist if I were in their comfy shoes.
Liberals have a reputation for empathy. So why can't the haves see how terrifying the prospect of unemployment is for the have-nots? And bankruptcy – either from medical bills or sky-high insurance premiums that everyone will pay once private-sector employers drop health insurance (and they will, at the first opportunity).
Unless you work for the government. No bankruptcy for you guys. Lucky dogs.
Since I'm a liberal myself, I can guess why the haves don't empathize with the have-nots when it comes to health care reform: They intellectualize. The true-believing optimists tell themselves that skeptics have been misled by left-wing or right-wing propaganda.
But I would say to the true believers: Perhaps it is you who has been misled. Maybe you've been sedated by your cushy gig. A Rasmussen poll reveals
that government workers are much more upbeat about our necrotic economy than those who work in the private sector.
Nothing sharpens the mind like a tiger on the loose. The have-nots have been dodging him for two years now, with no end in sight.
Brother, can you spare a dime? If you're a Dem that has, why not stand in solidarity with the Dem have-nots and demand real health care reform? If you don't, your poor relations may someday end up on your doorstep. Then your floor. Then your couch. It won't be pretty.