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Aug. 25 2009 - 2:17 am | 20 views | 2 recommendations | 2 comments

What if Obama’s Health Care Plan’s Most Dangerous Enemy Was… Twitter?

The Health Care battle in this country is failing, and not yet because of the bill itself. Like every other piece of legislation that is influential (or juicy) enough to garner attention from the media, Obama’s potentially phenomenal – potentially catastrophic – health care plan has become so politicized that if it weren’t for today’s faint-worthy and not-so-healthy temperatures, you’d swear it was late October 2012 not August 2009.

This summer has felt like the summer before an election year. Not altogether surprising I suppose given the recession, a new Latina justice who made a mildly offensive gaffe early on, and a brave attempt at universal (a word which does not mean “socialist”) health care. Yes, we have been fighting a battle with extreme fervor and animosity under the guise of Obama fanatacs vs. critics, the left vs. the right, the uninsured vs. insurance companies, and the list goes on. Maybe, however, we’re missing the point. Maybe we are all fighting against something bigger, less governable, and certainly more chaotic.

Beginning with the notorious – and some of us would claim poorly handled – torture memo debacle (read on here), President Obama and his team have been unable get their nation and economy-saving bills passed due to the ever-fighting factions in Congress and the media, not to mention the blasphemous lies being told from all corners and all states – ahem, Alaska (yes, I’m referring to the Death Panels, Mrs. Palin. Not even you are pretty enough to get away with such a ridiculous statement.) I’ve never seen my Twitter buddies type 140 characters as fast and with such anger as when her statement on Obama’s Health Care plan and the “death panels” was posted on Facebook.

That said, it’s not Sarah Palin I’m concerned with here. I wouldn’t describe myself as more than moderately liberal, and I’m certainly cautious of many Obama Administration policies. I fear that the Health Care bill, if passed, might be catastrophic to our still-dwindling recession, and I’m glad that all concerns (well, most concerns) are being expressed. But this is all beyond the scope. There is something going on in this country that we need to pay greater attention to. Our twitter-obsessed, constantly in-touch nation has created a media frenzy that by no means allows our elected officials to think clearly and make decisions based on their values and constituents’ attitudes.

When our country’s checks-and-balances government was created and the elected officials took their places, the constitution was written calling for an election every four years. None of our founding fathers ever expected the world to be a place where an election cycle would feel four years long, only to be overlapped by the next. Their idea was simple. The people vote in the elected officials, those officials vote with their constituents and nation in mind, and after a few years are evaluated and in some cases replaced, in others, maintaining their seats.

With the constantly reporting watchdog Twitter and a computer or smart phone available to virtually every person in this country, elected officials are finding it harder to do the job they signed on for. Their job, at this point, has become 10% policy and 90% PR. After all, it seems their decisions have less to do with the policy and more to do with popularity (Arlen Specter much?) My favorite part is that ironically, the harshest critic for this phenomenon is the media itself, even though without Twitter, Facebook, the .coms and even this blog, politicians and policy-makers would spend less time defending their misspeaks, personal lives, and once-held views, and would spend more time defending, fighting for, and enacting actual policy and change. Maybe my friends and I would even be able to afford our health insurance bills.

So how do we stop it, or at least keep control it, when it’s gotten so out of control already? While writing this piece, I’ve already checked my Blackberry 6 times, updated my Twitter status twice, looked at my friends’ Facebook statuses, read an article on my favorite blog, and downloaded Whitney Houston’s new album. Like everyone else, I’m addicted to our newfound technology. But I’m scared too. I’m aware that the irony of my constant Blackberry-ing while writing this article is almost as thick as the media – namely online critics – targeting our government for its inability to get things done. Perhaps we are all at fault for our own complaints.

Similarly, to right-wingers who criticize Obama’s Health Care policy but offer no alternate solution, I offer no solution as of yet that will make our officials focus less on PR and more on their jobs. I’m going to find one though. After all, I have to. My health insurance bill this month cost me twice as much as my medical services would have had I not been insured at all. I have the common sense, however, to stay insured. Sadly, as a recent poll showed, 20% of our nation’s youth do not. Unfortunately, they are not quite as invincible as, say… Twitter.


2 Total Comments
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    It’s an interesting idea.

    I think there needs to be a bit more of an ethics of responsibility in public conversation and discussion. Frankly, I think Obama is a good model for that ethics of responsibility: he doesn’t make bombastic or inaccurate statements in his public communications, and he responds to criticisms seriously, when the criticisms are serious.

  2. collapse expand

    Very well written piece. I feel the answer lies with the elected officials doing their jobs, not worrying about being re-elected from their first day on the job. I agree the representatives appear to be doing 90% PR work these days. I really think the average voter will support a representative with the courage to explain their position and stick by it without blowing in the wind. Obama is good at deflecting all the noise thrown at him and making reasonable policy statements but he needs to realize the GOP has no intention of letting him get credit for anything. They are truely the party of “NO” currently and will continue to try and destroy him, so forget about trying to appease them!

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    About Me

    Kim Stolz is a correspondent for MTV News and VJ for MTV's college network, mtvU. After graduating Wesleyan University in 2005, where she completed an honors thesis on The Impact of Exit Strategies on United States Intervention Abroad in the Post-Cold War Era, she surprised friends and family with a brief stint as a contestant on America's Next Top Model. However, shortly afterwards, she started her reporting and writing career at MTV News, where she has interviewed such political figures as Barack Obama, John Edwards, Mike Huckabee and others. She is a blogger for the Huffington Post, Fox Forum, and True Slant, and is a regular political commentator.

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