Whether you’re for it or against it, odds are, you feel passionately about health care reform. But how many of us have even made the attempt to dive into the 1,000-odd page health care reform bill H.R. 3200 “America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009”? I can tell you I made it as far as the first summary page on the web before turning pale and jittery, and somehow inexplicably finding myself in the kitchen pouring another cup of coffee without any memory of walking away from the computer.
My question today is this: how far does civic responsibility extend? To what degree does it behoove us to educate ourselves about what’s really on the table – and to what degree is the layperson really capable of educating him or herself on this massively complex issue before taking a stand, voicing an opinion, voting, or writing an angry letter to an elected official? And, knowing that tonight our duly elected president – love him, hate him, or somewhere in between – is going to give you a spiel (excuse me, outline his plans for health care reform), do you feel it’s your patriotic duty to give him your attention for that single hour of your evening?
I rather do. I forced myself to sit through similar policy speeches during the Bush years, much as I personally hated the man and despised his policies. I didn’t do it every time, but I did it when the issue mattered especially to me, and when I was able. It felt like a part of my contract as a citizen, even if it was a passive part. It also felt like the price of entry into the discussion, along with as much reading (and watching) of coverage on the topic at hand as I was and am able to take in. I may not slog through a 1,000-page bill, but before I open my yap, I want to be able to say I’ve given the major players in the discussion my full attention.
Agree? Disagree? Feel like you’re just going to be fed a pack of lies anyhow, so what’s the point?