Nov 022009
Authors: Josh Phillips

“This world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel.” So said Horace Walpole, an English politician who lived in the 18th century. Ironically this letter was sent on Aug. 16, 1776, just a few months after the Declaration of Independence was written.

While this wasn’t specifically said about the formation of the United States, I cannot help but see this statement as a rather scintillating description of America’s current condition.

On one side of the political spectrum, the liberal activists are weeping for the untold millions that are suffering each and every year due to lack of affordable health care. This world is a tragedy to them, and as such, they are often viewed as weak and willing to produce chaos to ensure that others can be helped.

On the other side of the spectrum, the conservative advocates are laughing at the idea of a government-controlled health care plan, or perhaps at the suffering of the untold millions. This world is a comedy to them, and as such, they are often viewed as heartless and willing to sacrifice a few of the unfortunate to ensure that order can be maintained.

The situation I have described is purely in black-and-white terms, because to suggest that no liberal can think and that no conservative can feel is ludicrous. Sadly, these are easily maintained stereotypes that seem to have trouble fading away, especially with the horrendous partisan politics plaguing our nation’s capital.

For example, the Republicans, God bless their dazed-and-confused souls, have hinted that they are planning to offer an alternative health care reform bill. Supposedly, it will allow the purchase of health insurance across state lines, reduce outrageous malpractice suits and offer group discounts. And if the Republicans aren’t lying or misleading us (a stretch for either party), this alternative will not require the raising of taxes.

Now call me crazy, but it sounds as though the conservative Republican Party actually cares enough about U.S. citizens that it is actually working to make health care more affordable without dragging down the hard-working half of the population.

Strange, I know, but perhaps all our preconceived notions that conservatives were just laughing at our misfortunes were horribly misplaced and based on spoon-fed media propaganda.

Now, let’s make the assumption that this bill won’t be loaded down with pork projects or selfish kickbacks. Amusing, I know, but just play along for a moment. What makes this bill so much more appealing is the fact that it would refrain from expanding the federal government, which is always a step in the right direction.

As president Gerald Ford wisely told Congress in 1974, “A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have.”

The Republicans also claim that the bill would bar insurers from excluding potential customers for pre-existing conditions or basing premiums on past medical history.

While all these claims are coming from one of the two parties that has systematically reduced our freedoms and exerted near-unconstitutional power over us, it’s enthralling to hear that we may finally have an alternative to Obama’s reckless anti-progressive spending spree masked as a reformative bill.

It’s doubtful that this new bill will remain free from harmful tampering or a raise in taxes, but if it staves off Obama’s foolhardy plan long enough that the public has time to realize he’s trying to pull a fast one on us, it will have done its job.

And, I think this will give Obama a chance to entertain the bipartisanship his platform espoused during his campaign. He needs to keep his cool, engage in intellectual debate with his opponents and try to find a plan that works for all Americans (not just his emotionally-driven supporters). If he can achieve these goals, he’ll be one step ahead of his opponents and, I think, a stronger, smarter president.

Not only that, but maybe he’ll begin to shed the stereotype that liberals only think with their hearts.

Oh, and for the record, I tend to view this world as a comedy, especially as we watch our government scramble around like a peep of headless chickens. Except that these headless chickens have been divided down the middle and have an irrational hankering to rend their chicken opponents asunder. Now that’s funny.

Josh Phillips is a senior business administration major. His column appears Tuesdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to

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