In a recent posting in ShowMeProgress, a blogger going by the name of Willy K, residing in southwest Missouri reports on an exchange of ideas that he had with the office of Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO). Willy is concerned that Senator McCaskill is placing so much emphasis on the government maintaining financial accountability that she has put aside addressing the pressing social issues that confront us.
Senator McCaskill is one of those enigmatic Democratic senators who supports the public option for health care one day and abandons it the next day. In the vernacular, she flip-flops. While this is speculation, it seems that as an empathetic individual she knows that the public option is a viable way to provide universal, reasonably-priced health care for all Americans and keep the insurance companies in check. That’s the flip. But the flop is either her concern for re-election in 2012 or just a natural desire to please her Missouri constituents. At a town hall last August in Hillsboro (Jefferson County), she said that she would base her position on health care on the “beliefs of the citizens of Missouri.”
We elect our leaders to lead. And to be blunt, if I was going to “follow” I’d find an individual or group with better judgment than “the citizens of Missouri.” It’s not politically correct to say this, but as we’ve stated before, the American people just aren’t that smart when it comes to public policy.
In his letter, Willy states:
Stop reading polls and listen to people like me. Educated people who watch the Sunday morning shows, read blogs, have hundreds of friends on Facebook, and have some idea of what the American public really thinks….
Watch John Stewart. He’s rude and crude, but he’s got it right about 95% of the time. Especially recently with regard to your total impotence about being able to accomplish anything in Healthcare. Visit his comments about what you might be doing while the Republicans are playing chess.
Either Senator McCaskill or someone in her office had the courtesy to respond to Willy’s letter. Willy was not satisfied because of what he considered her “one-note response.” That note was that fiscal responsibility trumps everything. She said:
I know that Missourians are especially concerned about the size of the federal government and the size of our national debt. I share these concerns. We do spend too much in Washington, and our deficit is dangerously high. I want you to know that I have consistently voted to hold down spending.
As an isolated statement, this is fine. However, we don’t live in a vacuum. Forty-seven million Americans do not have health care coverage; nearly 17% of our population is either unemployed or under-employed, and to quote the great philosopher, Mike Shannon, “this list goes on and on.”
Why do so many politicians become fiscal conservatives on domestic programs that provide direct benefit to citizens? Why are wars, often without clear purpose, exempt from fiscal restraint? I think that Senator McCaskill provided the answer in August; she relies on the good judgment of the people of Missouri. That’s a non-starter and certainly not leadership. Senator McCaskill, we need more from you and your colleagues in Congress and the White House if we are to address our problems. Which epitaph would you prefer, “She championed human rights and the welfare of the people” or “She pleased the people of Missouri.” They’re not the same, and so far, your choice is not terribly impressive to those who advocate for the needs of the disenfranchised. As is the case with President Obama, it’s not too late for Change 2.0.