Monday, August 17, 2009

John Mackey, Obamacare, and public opinion

Now that I've read the Op/Ed by Whole Foods CEO John Mackey in the Wall Street Journal I really don't understand what the big deal is.

Don't get me wrong. This is not about Free Speech. I uphold Mackey's right to say what he said. I uphold the right of the readers to boycott Whole Foods if they so desire. Freedom of Speech should never guarantee freedom from consequences for that speech. If you're going to say something that annoys your support base you should be prepared to take a hit, whether you're John Mackey or Natalie Maines (or Arlen Specter).

No, this post is about what liberals say and what they do. One of the main criticisms being leveled at those protesting against the Health Care Reform bill is that they are shutting down discussion and disallowing dialogue.

Mackey's article is a calm, rational discussion of alternatives to what is currently on the table. But just because he does not agree with universal health care it appears that the liberals are unwilling to read any farther than the second paragraph. I'll bet if they did they'd find they agree with him on at least a few points. Even if they disagree with everything, they would likely benefit from hearing what other people think.

Don't liberals espouse the value of differing viewpoints? Or does that only apply to ethnicity and sexual orientation?

To be fair, the political right is just as bad. Both sides seem to focus much of their attention on keeping people from listening to anyone from the other side. They aren't conducting a war on their ideological opposites so much as a joint offensive against moderation. They don't want anyone reaching over the wall they built. They have no interest in reaching across the aisle--they'd rather turn the aisle into a demilitarized zone where anyone who dares to venture will be shot on sight!

The sad thing is that if we we would take more time to listen we just might find we CAN find an answer that we can all agree on. Health Care reform could be possible. Universal Health Care could be doable. But as long as our politics allows for no middle ground we'll never accomplish anything that doesn't alienate at least half of the country.

The middle ground is where the answers can be found. John Mackey tried to take us there. No good deed goes unpunished.

No comments: