I spend a lot of time reading about politics. Specifically, I spend a lot of time reading about elections. Invariably, I get caught up in the comment strings attached to various posts about politics. Even a pretty literate site like Talking Points Media can be infuriating to read; people can be so dogmatic, or conspiracy minded, or whatever. If you really want to get depressed about the mental capacities of the electorate-at-large, read a comment string on a mainstream site like CNN.
Yeah, I know. I can’t write something like that without sounding like an elitist jackass. And in fact, I think I probably am an elitist jackass. But that doesn’t mean the people writing those comments aren’t idiots.
Anyway, the whole point of my comment confessional is that you read a lot of the same stuff about Obama, Hillary, and to a lesser extent, Edwards. For example, did you know Hillary is a conniving bitch who will do or say anything to get elected, and also has no soul whatsoever? That’s the word on the comment strings. Unless, of course, you’re of the belief that Obama is all style and no substance, and oh by the way, also a closet Muslim who sold crack to his kindergarten teacher. Because you read a lot of that crap, too.
So, today I decided I would research each of the Big Three’s proposals for a key issue, health care reform. And then I would know whether Obama really was “all style and no substance”, or whether Edwards’ plan really as great as the New York Times Op/Ed writers seem to think it is, or whether Hillary cried today in New Hampshire because she is calculating, or because she is both cold and calculating.
Shamefully, I have to admit that today was the first time I actually bothered to go to any of the Big Three’s websites to read their specific positions on any of the issues. There were many reasons for this, including:
- I don’t think I’ll cast a meaningful vote in the choice between the Big Three
- I know I’ll vote for whichever of the Big Three get the nomination
- I feel I should be able to discern the differences between the candidates via the media and their debates
- The above bullet is obviously a ludicrous assumption on my part, but it’s operative because…
- I’m lazy, but that’s good because…
- It makes me a representative voter
What did I learn once I dove into the specific proposals? Well, they all pretty much want the same thing, universal coverage. They’ll all pay for it in part by generating efficiencies and modernizing health care in this country, and by focusing more on preventive medicine. The way they get there, of course, all differs slightly. So you have to get into some fine detail to really…understand the…nuances betweeeeeeeeeeeeeezzzzzzzzzzzzzz
Oh! I’m sorry. Did I just doze off there? Yes I did.
Here’s why. Go ahead, read those pdfs at the bottom. Have fun.
Here’s the thing: None of that shit matters. Sure, the goals matter. But the details don’t. You really think John Edwards’ plan, or Hillary’s plan, is going to be implemented verbatim? Not even close, not even with a Dem House and Senate. Everything about the specifics will change by the time one of these plans becomes law. So all these policy wonk-inclined voters who want to talk about why so and so’s plan for X is so much better, and that’s why they should be President, need to get a clue.
It’s not about the details. Not that job. It’s about the goals, and about the ability to get people to move in a common direction. Leave the details to the advisers and the policy wonks and the academics. That’s what cabinets and think tanks are for. You think Edwards thought of his medical plan himself while he was getting a haircut? He didn’t. You think JFK drew up the blueprints for the lunar lander while he was lounging in his robe and slippers at his Mayflower Hotel getaway? He didn’t.
It’s often true that the devil is in the details. But the leadership is in the big picture. No, this is not an endorsement of Obama, not yet. But if people think they’re going to sway my vote based on some specific detail about how a candidate wants to pay for their health care plan, think again. There are a whole lot of smart people in this world who can and will contribute policy solutions on health care and other issues once asked. And they will be asked.
However, the list of people who can make people feel forward momentum about our future, who can capture the imagination of a downtrodden country in decline, is pretty small. Find that person first. Find the advisers and policy wonks second.