As the politics of health care reform tear at the cultural fabric of our American melting pot, we are reminded of Spanish philosopher George Santayana’s warning: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Our president and his minions have seemingly forgotten our elders’ tenacious defense of Social Security and Medicare, which are the lifelines of socioeconomic survival for those not comfortably retired or otherwise fiscally favored. Seniors are also parents and grandparents. They don’t want their offspring to be forced into lifelong overlord indebtedness by those who are supposed to protect them from that fate.
In large measure and as perceived by aging beneficiaries, the Social Security “third rail” of the electorate and complementing Medicare and SSI, in spite of the annual revenue raiding by Congress, are safety nets for a vast majority of older Americans. Unfortunately the president doesn’t seem to know what the vast majority of politicians have known for decades. Former President Bush said, “Social Security … [is] the third rail of American politics because when you talk about it, you got singed, at the minimum. You grab hold of it and you get electrified!” The former president was right and his observation applies to both Social Security and Medicare.
The “faces in the crowd” majority of American seniors know, never forget, and do not underestimate the importance of Social Security and Medicare to ensure quality living in later life in America. Many of today’s elected and appointed movers and shakers seem to want to “reform” our mixture of private-sector free enterprise and government subsidized health care insurance into a massive Medicaid for all inspired by a desire for control rather than a concern for care. Today’s obligatory providing of emergency room and inpatient health care for all in this era of rapidly advancing and increasingly expensive medical intervention is being pushed by the disciples of forced wealth redistribution into a fiscal nightmare for all generations for decades.
However, long latent electorate energy is becoming massive, a growing force of energized “we’re mad as hell” activism. Former House Speaker “Tip” O’Neill’s conclusion that “all politics is local” is now becoming local and loud as hell. Why? Maybe the electorate who can’t escape being indebted from cradle to crypt by politicking profiteers are sick of being political pawns of those who can escape being indebted by and who are protected from their own fiscal malfeasance and Robin Hood-in-reverse charade. More and more naive beneficiaries of taxpayer-financed preventive, critical and chronic health care for all are waking up our representative republic’s “sleeping giant” citizenry inspired and energized by the Bill of Rights and Tea Party tradition.
It is not just media talkers and publish-or-perish keyboard tappers who have been energized. Nor is it only the pawns of political victimization and nanny state dependence who are rising up like the French at the Bastille back in 1789. We hear a lot about minorities with impressive demographic statistics of our evolving cultural diversity. Be that as it may, the fastest growing subpopulation of America are older Americans of all ethnicities, nationalities and birthrights in urban, suburban and rural communities. They are the demographic “sleeping giant” of America that is being politically poked and prodded from the intellectual dozing and daydreaming of Pied Piper politics. The “Sons of Liberty” would be proud of their offspring.
Leonard C. Harlow, Ed.D., is a resident of Carmel.