Editor's note: Health care and James Madison

4.3.12 “As long as the connection subsists between his reason and his self-love, his opinions and his passions will have a reciprocal influence on each other; and the former will be objects to which the latter will attach themselves,” so says James Madison in Federalist Paper No. 10, his essay on factions. Madison, our near neighbor, formulated the persistent problem of our government way back in 1787: Democracy, at its worst, functions as a contest of factions, and people’s political opinions are generally thinly-veiled expressions of their own self-interest.

Saul Alinsky, one of the founding fathers of community organizing, has recently worked his way back into the popular conversation, mainly because of President Obama’s brief history as a rabble rouser in Chicago. Alinsky is famous among the labor crowd for two things: embracing disruptive and confrontational methods of protest and recognizing that grassroots networks draw their power from shared self-interest. He is on the way to becoming famous on the conservative talk-radio network (Gingrich is fanning the flames) as a sort of pinko Obi-Wan Kenobi who is responsible for the socialist radicalism that has gripped our nation over the past four years (sacrebleu!).

I bring all this up because last week’s news cycle included the latest round of argumentation on our country’s efforts to reform its health care system (our takes here and here). I think it’s likely the Supreme Court will rule that the government can’t force people to buy insurance, that the Affordable Care Act will fall apart, and that the matter will come back to the people. The Court, having already decided that corporations have the same rights as individuals with respect to their voice in government, has set up the kind of donnybrook Madison could see coming a mile away.

In the red corner a faction of insurance lobbyists, hospital administrators, and high-paid specialists. In the blue corner a faction of underpaid, overworked people with high cholesterol and diabetes. Let’s get a show of hands now. How many of you pay too little for your health insurance? O.K. and how many of you don’t want it at all?–Giles Morris 

Posted In:     The Editor's Desk

Previous Post

Readers respond to previous issues

Next Post

Editor's Note: Working women and the gender gap

Our comments system is designed to foster a lively debate of ideas, offer a forum for the exchange of ad hoc information, and solicit honest, respectful feedback about the work we do. We’re glad you’re participating. Here are a few simple rules to follow, which should be relatively straightforward.

1) Don’t call people names or accuse them of things you cannot support.
2) Don’t direct foul language, racial slurs, or offensive terms at other commenters or our staff.
3) Don’t use the discussion on our site for commercial (or shameless personal) promotion.

We reserve the right to remove posts and ban commenters who violate any of the rules listed above, or the spirit of the discussion. We’re trying to create a safe space for a wide range of people to express themselves, and we believe that goal can only be achieved through thoughtful, sensitive editorial control.

If you have questions or comments about our policies or about a specific post, please send an e-mail to editor@c-ville.com.

Leave a Reply

Notify of