Jessica Sieff: Healthcare has launched the country into circus mode

Published 9:29 am Thursday, August 20, 2009

SieffstarThis week has brought with it several symbols of nostalgia for this reporter.
And I love a little nostalgia now and then.

First, there was the ‘Mad Men’ season premiere on AMC. Big fan of the ‘Mad Men’. Manhattan in the early 1960s seems as though it was a deliciously sultry, debonaire kinda place…

Then there was the annual Berrien County Youth Fair. Though I’m not a huge fan of the fair, or fair food, I must say I noticed how those food stands are timeless aside from newly added menu options of fried Oreos and fried cheesecake, and always, for me, evoke a sense of nostalgia. By their very design, the colorfully decorated and canopied fronts could fit right into old, tattered photographs of a 1950s county fair anywhere in the country. Or a bustling, Coney Island of decades past.

Ahhhh the good old days.

Like, remember when George W. Bush was president? And everyone was sort of unsure of what to do with or about him so instead, America collectively turned their backs and just sort of pretended he wasn’t there? Half ashamed, half supportive but not really, everyone seemed as though they were just waiting for it to be his time to go? Like a lame animal sent to the slaughter house.

Remember that?

Remember when good ol’ ‘W’ made it okay to go day to day pretending like we didn’t really have a relationship with our government? Nations would look in our direction and we gave them the ol, shrug the shoulders and let the eyes roll so no one really knows what we’re thinking bit?

Well those days are over. And it’s communal government time.

Dude… What. Is with. All the town hall meetings?!

During the campaign and maybe even in the beginning, when Obama secured the White House, they were kinda cool. Way to get American’s involved again. But now we’re having them every other day. And everybody. Has something. To say. And not all of them should be speaking, quite frankly. Meanwhile, the president is being featured in a comical commercial spot for the new George Lopez late night talk show. Seriously? I mean, Stephen Colbert was enough. We get it. You’re hip, you’re cool, we like you more than we liked the last guy. You won already.

I guess I’m confused because I thought the whole point of being forced to endure tireless, extensive presidential campaigns was so we could put someone in an office and put them to work doing what our founding fathers realized a large, mass of general people could not do for themselves left unorganized.

I thought elections were supposed to put an end to those creepy
salesman/preacher/activist mesh blend speeches and redundant commercials with the ominous music and the gravelly voice declaring, “(insert government official here) thinks healthcare doesn’t matter. Is that who you want standing up for you? Paid for by (insert opposing government official here.)”

But nope. The current healthcare debate squashed any chances of that.
And what good has all of it done?

Look, I’m not saying that the people’s opinion should be discounted or ignored but there is a limit. While I also agree that it may have saved us a rushed into healthcare reform policy … I still say … it’s starting to wane.

We vote in elections so the winner no longer has to campaign. That’s all Obama seems to be doing. Which leaves me to question how productive our next four years will really be.
And every so often, some little tidbit of something off topic floats into the news, like, the president pushes for Mideast peace talks and I think, seriously? Frankly, how on earth can this guy try to focus his attention and intelligence on issues such as Mideast peace when he’s too busy rolling up his sleeves in nowheresville North Dakota listening to people tell him his healthcare plan is full of crap?

Hey – it may be. But part of democracy is win/lose. Some win with their candidate in office. Some lose. Some win, with those now office holders making decisions they support. Some make decisions we don’t necessarily support but because of democracy we have to deal with them anyway.

I feel like we’re all turning into children who want a say in our own curfews or for that matter – our own punishments.

I’m glad to see people taking an active role, admittedly freedom of speech is the most basic and most precious of all our rights – don’t get me wrong. But there is a balance to all things – and right now, we have none.

So I guess my freedom of speech is expressing I wish some others didn’t have the right to do so much speaking.

Consider the brilliance of a town hall attending opponent to Obama’s healthcare initiative who recently asked Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts how he could support “a Nazi policy, as Obama has expressly supported this policy…”

My hat is tipped to Frank, who did not discount the level of ridiculousness in the remark.
“As you stand there with a picture of the president defaced to look like Hitler,” he said. “And compare the effort to increase healthcare to the Nazis, my answer to you is as I said before, it is a tribute to the first amendment that this kind of vile, contemptible nonsense is so freely propagated.”

America is not necessarily in danger of dying. Countries a lot older than we have lived through horrific economic eras, seemingly endless wars, dictatorships and despair. What America is in danger of is that of becoming a complete and total circus.

Get your funnel cake while you can.

Jessica Sieff is a reporter for the Niles Daily Star. Reach her at