The Political Art of Hostage Taking: The capacity to inflict great fear and harm on the innocent.

“…. In every “hostage taking situation”, there is an understandable wariness; a wanting to see an end to it all; a desire to settle at any cost; to cut a “deal”, no matter that the deal will not guarantee the return of your love one to you safely; or signifies an end to hostage-taking. There is the strong urge to surrender to the reality that the perpetrators of this dastardly act, have power over something you love so dearly, both you and the captive are in a sense hostages.  And so the power of the hostage-taker is their power to impose fear; but their greatest power awaits them. For as the ransom payment is made, they can choose not to return the victim safe (if at all); or more importantly “hostage-taking” as a standard method of  communication/negotiation, will become the preferred method of the perpetrators; and why not? It works! I must confess that as this “shut-down” continues day to day; my great recurring fear is that I will wake up one day to read  that the Democrats have “caved” and dismantle what is perhaps the best opportunity to get uninsured Americans into  a life-saving health care delivery system…”

Many in the news media and “the professional talking-heads class” are heavily invested in the building and maintaining the false narrative of a: “broken Washington”….”Why can’t they just all get along?”  And of course this approach is most effective with low information citizens who have been sold the idea that survival in a culturally changing America means that you must vote and support a party; even if that party (Republican); operates against their own interest. They have purchased the idea that the source of their trouble whether it is no health insurance, no job, no opportunity to better their lives, is due to the fact that darker, poorer and Spanish speaking Americans are getting things for free. This news media driven story-line is like a boxing promoter trying to convince, and “hype-up” the potential pay-for-view customers. It is a false equivalency of dysfunction that allegedly is fueled by partisan politics. The family of the person taken hostage is asked to negotiate unrelated and unreasonable demands; without the guarantee of having their love one returned to them.  And this is why; like a good counter puncher, Senate majority leader Harry Reid offered a very appropriate response to what was indeed a very unintelligent question from a CNN reporter. The question concerned a single person harmed by the shut down when in fact millions are facing harm; to a lesser are greater degree; because of this purely manufactured tragedy. He is right, why; I imagined Mr. Reid thought, contribute to, and become part of, Republican political theater. Could you just imagine for a moment that if Mr. Romney won the last presidential election; which could have been said to represent a national repudiation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). And then the Democrats  say: “well, we will shut down the government if we don’t get an ACA bill”; now that would be broken politics; where one side refuses to accept the outcome of a presidential election. In every “hostage taking situation”, there is an understandable wariness; a wanting to see an end to it all; a desire to settle at any cost; to cut a “deal”, no matter that the deal will not guarantee the return of your love one to you safely; or signifies an end to hostage-taking. There is the strong urge to surrender to the reality that the perpetrators of this dastardly act, have power over something you love so dearly, both you and the captive are in a sense hostages.  And so the power of the hostage-taker is their power to impose fear; but their greatest power awaits them. For as the ransom payment is made, they can choose not to return the victim safe (if at all); or more importantly “hostage-taking” as a standard method of communication/negotiation, will become the preferred method of the perpetrators; and why not? It works! I must confess that as this “shut-down” continues day to day; my great recurring fear is that I will wake up one day to read  that the Democrats have “caved” and dismantle what is perhaps the best opportunity to get uninsured Americans into  a life-saving health care delivery system. As an educator; over the years, I encountered many working-poor families who did not have health insurance. Families, who lived for years on the margins of a wealthy and endowed nation. They were just one catastrophic accident or illness away from financial ruin. Fortunately I worked at a school that took extraordinary steps to bridge the health care gap, by connecting many of our families to community based health resources; and even bringing in medical support specialist including dentist and medical doctors into the school. But we were unable to help our uninsured parents who lived in fear of a debilitating injury or accident that would drive an already fragile family financial situation into chaos. If and when these folks were forced to seek medical care it would take place in the emergency rooms. Primary preventative health care did not exist for these people. There were also many who were afraid to even go to the emergency room, because of their “emigration status”. No one can convince me; based on my personal experience that health insurance is not a good thing. And yes good health care like good housing, food and retirement income is something we should want for everyone. I found myself agreeing with Alex Baldwin; in his Tweet asserting that  particular professional “talking heads” (he called them’ White guys’ not me) like conservative Bill Kristol have the luxury to be casual and cruel about the importance of access to health care insurance; because they are so removed from struggling Americans who don’t have it; removed from people for whom the emergency room doctor is, their primary care physician.  But will the Democrats stand firm? And it is at these moments that I reference a painting, sculpture poem, book, dance, play or film. In this case, it is the film Apocalypse Now, and the line delivered by the Marlon Brando character (Colonel Kurtz):

 “…..I remember when I was with Special Forces… seems a thousand centuries ago. We went into a camp to inoculate some children. We left the camp after we had inoculated the children for polio, and this old man came running after us and he was crying. He couldn’t see. We went back there, and they had come and hacked off every inoculated arm. There they were in a pile. A pile of little arms. And I remember… I… I… I cried, I wept like some grandmother. I wanted to tear my teeth out; I didn’t know what I wanted to do! And I want to remember it. I never want to forget it… I never want to forget. And then I realized… like I was shot… like I was shot with a diamond… a diamond bullet right through my forehead. And I thought, my God… the genius of that! The genius! The will to do that! Perfect, genuine, complete, crystalline, pure. And then I realized they were stronger than we, because they could stand that these were not monsters, these were men… trained cadres. These men who fought with their hearts, who had families, who had children, who were filled with love… but they had the strength… the strength… to do that. If I had ten divisions of those men, our troubles here would be over very quickly. You have to have men who are moral… and at the same time who are able to utilize their primordial instincts to kill without feeling… without passion… without judgment… without judgment! Because it’s judgment that defeats us….”

 

I want to be as optimistic as possible; but I am not sure as how you stop an opponent who out of hatred for, and of anything “Obama” is willing to deny his own uninsured constituents access to affordable health care. I think of the state governors channeling their civil rights blocking ideological ancestors making their last desperate stands against modernity, civility and compassion for the common person regardless of color. It is amazing; and amazingly evil in that their desire to see that Mr. Obama fail; they are willing to inflict great harm on the White uninsured in their states. They refuse to permute and/or cooperate with the implementation of the AFC (The art of “Obamascare”) in their state. One in particular Robert Bentley of Alabama a professional Medical doctor, and supposedly took some form of an oath to do no harm to people; and yet his (active) passive resistance is seeking to deprive Alabamians of the benefits of the ACA. This law (with or without Obama’s name attached to it), could increase access, and dramatically reduce the health care cost to Alabamians in and outside of Medicare. Most importantly, the AFA would go a long way in improving the general overall quality of health and well-being in a state with so many uninsured  people struggling with chronic diseases. Many of these unfortunate citizens; like the poor and uninsured everywhere, will seek health intervention and relief in the most expensive place the emergency room; at the point when their affliction will perhaps be in a very advanced stage. The cost of this most expensive stage of health care for the uninsured will be passed on to the taxpayers. To have the “will” to inflict harm on an entire state; and also know that this harm will fall, not just on the Black uninsured, but also on the “gerrymandered” citizenry that you have taught to fear progress; does indeed take some type of strength and commitment to do some harm. The Democrats need to at least match their level of  intensity in fighting for the poor and uninsured. In the Art of hostage taking, fear is the weapon of choice for the hostage-takers; as is their capacity to inflict great harm on the innocent. But this can be countered by the courage to defend those innocent Americans with extraordinary efforts. And, to listen to the words of a previous president who introduced many social security benefits we now take for granted;  defeat only occurs with the surrender to fear.