Baucus and the Politics of Pluralism, Pragmatism, and Realism

The Senate Finance Committee’s vote in favor of the Baucus health care “reform” proposal leaves one with a few questions about the manner in which our representative republic is working these days.  According to one news report, the bill is “historic,” but according to what I have read, this bill is nothing to be particularly excited about. It seems that the bill is a genuine counterfeit not only because of its pandering to the states from which Senate supporters hail, but also because it is a boondoggle for taxpayers, and deadly for preborn children and others deemed too costly to maintain.

Kimberly Strassel of the Wall Street Journal explains how Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid cut a special deal that is reflected in the Senate Finance Committee version of the bill, which stipulates that all of his state’s increased Medicaid costs will actually be paid for by the federal government for the next five years. Strassel’s impression is that

health-care “reform” is good, smart and necessary, so long as it isn’t fully applied to the states of senators who are pushing it. The Democrats’ growing problem is that somebody is ultimately going to have to pay, and Mr. Reid’s bad example has given everyone the same idea. … Most Senators are saving up their special state demands for when the bill hits the Senate floor. At that point, we’ll get an even better idea of how much health-care change the Democrats truly believe in.

While Senator Orrin Hatch attempted an amendment that would have curtailed abortion funding in the Baucus bill, his effort failed. There is no doubt, even though the actual language of the bill remains in flux, there is nothing truly democratic or historic about it. American Life League has reported on previous versions of Obamacare , each of which have contained specific authorization for tax payer- funded abortion on demand, various anti-life policies that would be applied to the elderly and so forth.

On October 8, four days prior to the Senate Finance Committee vote, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops sent a letter to members of Congress that urged exclusion of mandated coverage for abortion, incorporation of “long-standing” policies against abortion funding and inclusion of protection for conscience rights. Further, in a sentence I find increasingly bizarre, the USCCB wrote, “Reform should make quality health care affordable and accessible to everyone, particularly those who are vulnerable and those who live at or near the poverty level.”

The three bishops who signed this letter—Bishop William F. Murphy, Cardinal Justin Rigali and Bishop John Wester—must be aware that they are writing to a group of politicians who have already made it clear that they don’t give a fig about the most vulnerable human persons in our society, whether they are preborn or otherwise defenseless.

And according to the Wall Street Journal, these politicians aren’t particularly concerned about the impoverished or immigrants either, in part, perhaps, because they have a rather perverted view of what health care reform means in a nation suffering from all manner of financial and moral problems. The idea that a government comprising more than a few unethical public officials should control health care for an entire citizenry is indisputably a frightful one.

Pope Benedict XVI wrote this in Deus Caritas Est (God is Love ), issued in October 2006:

The State which would provide everything, absorbing everything into itself, would ultimately become a mere bureaucracy incapable of guaranteeing the very thing which the suffering person–every person–needs: namely, loving personal concern. We do not need a State which regulates and controls everything, but a State which, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, generously acknowledges and supports initiatives arising from the different social forces and combines spontaneity with closeness to those in need. (Section 28)

This principle, enunciated by the Catholic Church repeatedly over the years, is the last thing many politicians in Washington are interested in upholding because, in my view, they are inebriated with their own egos to an extent that most of us cannot even imagine. There is treachery afoot, which is why I think it wise to revisit subjects such as democracy, representative government, pluralism and pragmatism in order to get the Church’s perspective, so that we remain firmly grounded in truth.

In Veritatis Splendor (The Splendor of Truth ), Pope John Paul II taught a profound lesson on what genuine democracy is and how it comes about. In Section 96 he teaches,

The Church’s firmness in defending the universal and unchanging moral norms is not demeaning at all. Its only purpose is to serve man’s true freedom. Because there can be no freedom apart from or in opposition to the truth, the categorical–unyielding and uncompromising–defense of the absolutely essential demands of man’s personal dignity must be considered the way and the condition for the very existence of freedom.

This service is directed to every man , considered in the uniqueness and singularity of his being and existence: only by obedience to universal moral norms does man find full confirmation of his personal uniqueness and the possibility of authentic moral growth. For this very reason, this service is also directed to all mankind : it is not only for individuals but also for the community, for society as such. These norms in fact represent the unshakable foundation and solid guarantee of a just and peaceful human coexistence, and hence of genuine democracy [emphasis added], which can come into being and develop only on the basis of the equality of all its members, who possess common rights and duties. When it is a matter of the moral norms prohibiting intrinsic evil, there are no privileges or exceptions for anyone. It makes no difference whether one is the master of the world or the “poorest of the poor” on the face of the earth. Before the demands of morality we are all absolutely equal.

Clearly then, those elected officials who are determined to impose Obama-style health care “reform” on us  have it wrong on at least two counts: respect for the absolute norms of the natural law and adherence to a code of conduct that does not allow deceiving and robbing the taxpayer in order to guarantee their re-election.

Further, the problem of misguided pluralism comes into play. As Pope John Paul II wrote in Fides et Ratio (Faith and Reason ), “A legitimate plurality of positions has yielded to an undifferentiated pluralism, based upon the assumption that all positions are equally valid, which is one of today’s most widespread symptoms of the lack of confidence in truth” (Section 5).

Indeed, when it comes to the popular attitude, which embodies a flagrant disregard for the dignity of the human person, America’s version of political pluralism fails. Not only are we experiencing a political atmosphere in which taxpayers are being led down a primrose path to servitude, but human beings are being degraded and denied fundamental human rights in every other way.

Health care reform that imposes an undue burden on families as well as policies of death and destruction on the preborn, elderly, infirm and severely disabled, is un-American, is not legitimate pluralism and is diabolical. Furthermore, it is incompatible with the laws of nature, the laws of God and common sense. All opinions on whether or not a human person has dignity and must be respected at every stage of his life are not equal. Some are simply wrong, which brings me to the subject of realism.

The firm conviction that truth never changes and that essential facts are the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, because they are grounded in ethical and moral principles, is the only credible guideline for examining any sort of political activity or philosophy. To realistically examine Harry Reid’s notion of fairness would be to come to the undeniable conclusion that he is a crook. By the same measure, to realistically examine the position President Obama has taken on the act of aborting a child still in his or her mother’s womb would be to come to the undeniable conclusion that Obama is a liar.

I could go on, but I think I have made my point. The problem with today’s brand of politics, whether we are talking about health care "reform," tax-subsidized abortion or conscience protection, is that as long as misguided pluralism is the measure of what is and is not fair, death, destruction, mayhem and madness will ensue. I guarantee it as God is my judge.

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