I am not what many would say a "dye in the wool" progressive. I tend to be a moderate, and I believe that bipartisanship is not a dirty word. I tend to be quiet about the situation with Healthcare because I didn’t know a lot about what was happening. I began researching more when the town halls got more insane, and began to understand the implications.
It all came suddenly this past weekend.
This weekend I traveled to Central Illinois for a family function. My Sister was celebrating her wedding (due to budget and the cost of things, her and her husband did a simple court wedding in April, and had a reception party this past weekend). As I left my Northern Virginia residence for Rural Illinois, I did not think I would come face to face with something I have been reading online for months: A birther.
The day was busy, family coming in, people getting things ready, and a harried sister trying to keep everything together for a fun evening. My stepbrother had come in and we were catching up. He is currently working at a chain restaurant as a chef, and is going to culinary school. My other Step Brother could make it up due to money issues. He was diagnosed with Kidney Cancer last year, and despite working for an Insurance company at the time, His coverage was inadequate and he is now staring bankruptcy in the face. He and his wife was also dumped him from his coverage after his surgery to remove his kidney.
Anyhow, since my Step Brother had planned to drink, I was driving to the reception hall. The conversation starts.
"The last time I wore a suit was when I went to a GOP Election party... yes, I am a Republican" he said with a smug look on his face. It was in response to my incredulous look.
"So you liked Palin, eh?" I said back to him conversationally.
"Well, I wanted to Fuck her!" he exclaimed, laughing heartily. I had heard this line before when I went to a McCain Palin rally during the election last year here in Northern Virginia.
He went on talking about how horrible McCain’s campaign was, and how he was for Giuliani at first, then Romney, and thought that the GOP got it right with Palin, but McCain fucked it up.
Then he said it.
"Hell, I mean Obama is just an African anyway."
"Don’t tell me you are a Birther" I shot back, keeping my voice casual, but now with a slight edge to it.
"The man was born in Africa." He said defiantly.
I sighed. How can my own Step Brother, someone who has lived with me, utter those words? How can he take such a stance, when I take the exact opposite? Do I really have a Birther in my rental car, and what do I do now?
"Why do you believe that?" I ask.
He went off, speaking Glenn Beck talking points, and talking about how it was done all the time "back then" and how there was no official documents available.
"Robert*" I start, "Do you have your original Birth Certificate?"
"No" he said.
"Do you realize that you can never ever get your original birth certificate, that when you request one, the State give you’re an official record of birth, but never ever gives out the birth Certificate itself."
"Yeah, so." He answered.
"Well, then how can you prove that you were born in Illinois, let alone the United States?"
"Well, of course I was! People where there!" He exclaimed.
"But perhaps, they all decided to simply say that, and really, you were born in Europe, and you are not an American at all. I mean, unless you have the original document, you must not be from this country."
"Aaron, that is just stupid." He said.
"And it is stupid to think that a 48 year old conspiracy exists ranging from State officials from the 1960’s and the 2000’s, plus the doctor, two newspapers announcing his birth... I mean, do you think they telegraphed the announcement to Honolulu in the hopes that they will print it, or that the papers in Honolulu regular announce the births of children in Kenya?
He was silent
"Think about it Robert*, it simply doesn’t make sense, especially since women in their 8 month of pregnancy don’t travel to 3rd world countries in planes, and taking several days especially in 1961, only to have a baby, and rush back to Hawaii to begin a process which frankly doesn’t happen. I mean... it is not like someone said, "This child will be president one day, we must take him to... Hawaii!."
"hmmmph" He grunted back, and decided to take a new tack... Deather.
He changed the topic to Healthcare and the Death Panels. He doesn’t believe there are death Panels, but Obama wants European Insurance, and even the Europeans don’t want that. He said Obama wants to destroy this country because he hates capitalism.
This made me annoyed. I went through the truths of the Health care plans going through congress, and ended with this:
"... and how can you say that, look at our Brother. He did nothing wrong, hell he worked for the insurance company! And look what they did to him. They barely covered him, they took his money, and he is now broke because he had to choose whether to live, or accept the insurance company’s decision not to cover the life saving operation. THAT is a death panel, a death panel that looks at the profits and makes decisions based on profit, our brother’s life is worth less to them than a few dollars. Now, his children will have problems getting insurance because of this. They will have to fight in the current system to get decent insurance because their father had cancer... is that fair? absolutely not. Yes, that should be changed, and yes, there are better health care plans out there, and I feel that our brother’s life is worth a slightly lower profit share. If that makes me a socialist, believing that a human life is more important than profit, then so be it."
"Well, when I worked for the State (Of Illinois), I had great benefits! I wish I still had it, my insurance sucks now, but I would rather have that than socialism" He spoke up.
"Illinois has single payer insurance. The state pays for it all. It is socialized."
The car went quiet. The Garmin was quietly telling me to turn towards the reception hall.
"Well, there is one thing we can agree on.... Rod Blagojevich is an idiot."
There was a laugh from both of us, and we started to talk about how corrupt Illinois politicians are, from both sides of the aisle.
Did I reach him? I don’t know, but I knew I couldn’t stay quiet. In the gay community, there is an oft-used statement: Silence = Death. I find it appropriate to say given the Healthcare situation. Maybe I made him think. Maybe it will make him reexamine his thoughts... but I doubt it. But it did show me that I can’t just be quiet anymore on either situation. I will keep telling people what they are not hearing on TV, I will keep talking about my step brother who did absolutely nothing wrong, and is now in Medical Bankrupcy because of it. how the Insurance company he WORKED FOR turned him out when he needed them.
No more silence, not from me.