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March 23, 2010

Cognitive Dissonance and the Debate over Medical Care

George Santayana, an American scholar born to Spanish parents, but abandoned by his father at 5 and raised in the US for the first half of his life, is best known for observing that, “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” which probably explains why last Sunday’s Congressional debate over the federal government’s role in health care was so reminiscent of an earlier division that afflicted our fledgling American experiment in Democracy and ultimately plunged us into Civil War. So bitter was the antebellum debate over slavery, and so violent were the feelings it generated among elected representatives that in 1856, a Congressman from South Carolina savagely attacked a Senator from Massachusetts in the Senate chamber with a cane brutally enough to disable the older man for three years. Amazingly, although expelled from Congress, Brooks was never charged with a crime and was defiantly re-elected by his home state. Ironically, he soon died of “croup” before he could finish his term.

Although their names have undergone the political equivalent of magnetic pole reversal, modern Democrats and Republicans exhibit the same powerful emotions as those displayed by supporters of Sumner and Brooks. Today’s Red State, Tea Bag, Republicans, clearly no longer the "Party of Lincoln," now have a different agenda. They are fiercely supportive of the right to life but insist medical care is far too expensive to be extended to the surviving fetuses they hope will be saved from abortion by a Supreme Court chosen for that purpose. By the same token. the Catholic justices on the Court can apparently be counted on to support the expanded police powers that have produced the world’s largest prison system. How else could we punish criminals who dare to self-medicate with illegal drugs like "marijuana?"

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at March 23, 2010 04:23 PM