As you spend your time in your home districts and states, respectively, this August please remember that the fight for healthcare reform is a fight for an affirmative American response to a national defense issue: the health and well-being of the citizenry of the country.
That you have neglected this aspect of healthcare reform is shocking to me. Not only because it is so obvious, but because it also frames the debate in a way to create an affirmative "right" to healthcare in the Constitution itself (and these are just the thoughts of an everyday salesman, not a Constitutional expert).
This has positive political implications as well.
Making the Constitutional Case for Government Involvement in Healthcare
Let's start off referring to Section VII, Article I of the document itself:
The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States...
Then take into consideration Section VII, Article 18:
To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof.
So you have the Constitution stating explcitly in Section VII, Article I that it must "provide for... the general welfare of the United States." What relates more to the "general welfare" of the country more than the health of its citizens? Then the Constitution specifically charges the Congress with the powers to make the laws which are necessary and proper to execute its powers and responsibilities.
Think about this in the context of healthcare. Do we trust private insurers to run disease control? To be responsible for the safety of our food supply? To handle epidemic care in case of public health emergency? To conduct and fund serious medical research? When a major domestic terror event or even a mass shooting occurs, do the emergency room doctors check the insurance cards of the seriously injured before treating them? Any medical or drug research functions? The answer to all of these questions is "no." And the conclusion one must draw from this is that the insurers are nothing more than profiteers, seeking to add cost to the value chain while providing nothing but roadblocks to the streamlined and beneficial care of the citizenry.
So, use this in your messaging. State affirmatively that healthcare is an issue of national defense, and too much of the American healthcare expenditure is being spent on waste and fraud, and healthcare reform will curb those excesses while also expanding and improving care for millions of people with and without health insurance currently.
Now, if one were to argue that the federal government had no say in the healthcare of the citizenry, does this mean the States could not pro-actively address the issue of healthcare? Let's take a look at the Ninth Amendment to the Constitution in the Bill of Rights:
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
So any unenumerated powers not charged to the federal government "are reserved to the States, or to the people." Now, you can look at that in a few ways. In some ways that almost seems to allow for individuals to be able to find loopholes in the enumerated powers to create their own personal rule of law, which is somewhat empowering and somewhat frightening. But it also points out that States can have a say in healthcare if they like if it is determined the federal government should not have a role in that arena. But I am positing that Section VII, Article I holds sway, and that Congress in particular does have an enumerated power to protect the "general welfare."
Using American Exceptionalism to Your Advantage
The conservative argument against healthcare reform relies on spouting out many bald-faced lies, including that this reform will get between patients and doctors, and that nursing home and hospice care will be rationed or ended for older citizens. It also relies on their inherent belief that the government does a worse job than private industry in running large enterprises. And, lastly, the town hall rabble rousers just believe in shouting (and much more distasteful behaviors) to simply drown out our message.
On all three points, what is needed to turn the tables on our foes is a simple message that America is the greatest country in the world, and any argument saying "we can't" is an argument which shows a lack of faith in our country's ability to tackle big problems.
We don't need 8-point plans. We need to firmly state that healthcare reform in this decade is equal to the most important challenges we have faced and overcome as a nation: overcoming the Great Depression, creating the infrastrutcure and partnerships which allowed American industrial muscle to meet the demands of wartime, ending slavery, etc... so let me propose a sample stump speech you all might want to consider as this debate continues forward:
The federal government is currently responsible for two outstanding health insurance programs covering millions of American citizens: Medicare and Tricare. Our experience running these two programs, where member patients are never denied coverages and never dropped from coverage because they are "too risky," gives me every confidence the federal government has both the expertise and the unique ability to make sure all Americans receive the same excellent level of care at an affordable cost as we do in those programs.
This healthcare excellence should be provided to members of both private and public insurance options, and as that health is so vital to both our national security and our productivity, it is necessary that the Congress move on healthcare reform here in 2009. Lingering problems have been allowed to fester and inertia has taken hold where we need bold action.
This effort requires the focus and resources of the federal government. We undertake this effort as a public mission as serious and as achieveable as our efforts in the 1960s and 1970s to create our manned space program and put men on the moon. As patriotic Americans we undertake these challenges with a sense of pride, of knowing Americans want to join together in a cause which will strengthen our robust economy and provide our citizens with freedom of choice.
We also want Americans to be rid of many of the burdens we face under our current healthcare system. No American need live in fear that their preferred public or private plan will be taken away from them. No American, after this reform bill is passed, will have to fear the words "pre-existing condition" or "coverage denied."
Health insurance, in my mind, is a Constitutional right that we in Congress need to take seriously. Article VII of the Constitution gives Congress both the power and the responsibility to "... provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States." The Republican and conservative opposition thinks we can't do it. Imagine that. Those that style themselves as the most patriotic Americans, they don't think Americans can rise to this challenge. They don't want to rise to this challenge. They like seeing the private insurers gouge you for every penny. Why? So those same health insurance companies can then buy their complicity in the current system with campaign contributions. After all, who wouldn't want to be a Congressperson or Senator? - the healthcare is FANTASTIC!
So before you make a decision on this healthcare reform effort think about the road ahead in this country. Do we want to be bogged down thinking about healthcare reform forever, or can we begin now to create easy solutions to well-known problems we do not want to become chronic. Do we want to live our lives always worried about what level of care we are entitled to, and when we might have to bear an unreasonable cost for just having the temerity to be an American citizen with an illness? Or do we want to move forward confidently, worrying less about the minutiae of interacting with the insurance bureaucracy and worrying more about being healthy.
I stand with my fellow Democrats for healthcare reform. It's too important to be ignored, and let's be frank, we know we have the energy, the willpower, and the strategy to do this right. The American "can do spirit" is on trial here. And I say we "can do." We must do. We will do. Give us your support and help us do it - help us pass healthcare reform. God bless you, and God bless the United States of America!
I mean, really, is it that hard to see? You have to call out their patriotism. What game do they try and run on us every four years? what do you think they are saying about us when they start talking about "real America" or "the real Virginia." They're saying we aren't patriots. TURN THAT ARGUMENT ON ITS HEAD - RIGHT NOW! - AND DEMOCRATS WILL WIN ON HEALTHCARE!
BONUS: Also think about Article IV, Section III in the presence of this mob-like behavior at town halls across the nation:
The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a republican form of government, and shall protect each of them against invasion, and on application of the legislature, or of the executive (when the legislature cannot be convened), against domestic violence.
Because we know that's where we're heading - the GOP establishment won't be able to control this type of unhinged anger for long as long as they keep fomenting the fire on this through their statements and the rhetoric of their TV/radio shock jock partners.