Despite my avid readership of the New York Times and general consciousness of current events, I’m sad to report that I really have a poor grasp on the specifics of the health care bill that was passed this week. It seems to me that there are a lot of very complicated issues around the level of care, structure of the insurance industry and the financial implications of the bill. However my main concern is not the bill itself, but rather the manor in which people have been debating about the bill.

Thanks to the luxury (or curse) of 24 hour news networks, I’ve heard dozens of arguments for and against the bill. To my surprise – both sides of the debate actually have very good points to support their arguments. The reason for my surprise is because of the ways those arguments have been posed. Not only did each side consistently exaggerate their arguments to the point of absurd hyperbole (e.g. death panels), but each side made their points without even acknowledging the possibility that their view was anything short of infallible. I really saw no health care “debate,” what I saw was two parties equally zealous and unwavering in their convictions spout arguments at the opposition without progress toward any agreement or common ground.

Everyone knows that policy issues (such as the heath care bill) are extremely complicated – but still it seems that there is a tendency for people to form a personal affiliation with one particular line of thinking. Why is it that we are constantly “taking sides” on these complicated issues, rather than approaching them objectively and working together to find the best solution for everyone? It seems to me that our rational inclinations are frequently superseded by emotional attachments to one particular ethos or political party.

Just think of how many better solutions we would be able to find if we were all able to debate evenhandedly, embracing both sides of each issue, and without interpreting opposing arguments as personal attacks.

Politics
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  • Actually, what’s really funny is that the “Democratic” healthcare bill is essentially a carbon-copy of Mitt Romney’s healthcare plan – the one he passed in Massachusetts, and the one he proposed for the nation.

    I honestly don’t know why, because despite including huge chunks of Republican-sponsored ideas, no Republican voted for the bill.

    And yeah, I hate those 24-hour news networks. It’s cheaper to put a “talking head” on-air than it is to do some real analysis. They tend to focus more one what people are saying that what the people are talking about – that is, healthcare.

    You’re right, though, in that it’s a lesson that debate shouldn’t devolve into shouting and sheer hyperbole: it should accurately reflect reality, and respect for the other side is necessary for that. Or, to put it another way, don’t let your emotions get the better of you.