A word to the Republican Party

I should be exactly the kind of voter you’re trying to attract, but you’re making it nearly impossible for me to vote for the Republican presidential candidate in November.

My husband and I both work full time, we still have two children in college, and our lifestyle is far from extravagant.  He drives a Mustang; I drive a Volvo big enough that our 100-pound family dog can ride in the back instead of on the car roof like Mitt Romney’s dog.

The last thing we want is higher taxes, yet we feel an obligation to help those less fortunate than ourselves.  Against my economic self-interest, I’ve voted Democratic quite a few times, with one notable exception.  I couldn’t bring myself to vote for John Edwards, the former plaintiff’s attorney, and couldn’t support George Bush either, so I didn’t vote for president at all in 2004.

Barack Obama got my vote in 2008, but I’ve been deeply unhappy with the Obama presidency ever since, despite its initial promise.  Why would his administration decide to push through the misguided Affordable Care Act when there were so many other pressing problems like the economy? Obama had a brilliant chance to use his political capital to create jobs and rebuild the country’s failing infrastructure, but he let that moment slip away.

The Obama administration appears to be completely hostile toward physicians and the practice of medicine.  The clear agenda is to cut payments to physicians and replace them with mid-level health care personnel.  If your goal is to dictate all health care policy from Washington, the last thing you want is to have to deal with physicians who are accustomed to making the best individual decisions for their patients from a background of scientific knowledge.  You want less educated workers who will follow your dictates without question.

I really would like to vote Republican this time around.  All I ask for is a reasonable candidate, but so far I’ve been disappointed.

The Republican Party is making a grievous mistake in focusing so much on social and religious issues.  Americans overall value religious freedom, and don’t want the government poking around in their private lives.  The real answer to preventing abortion is to make birth control cheap and the morning-after-pill immediately available.  Many of us wish the candidates would stop talking about abortion and worry more about the well-being of the children who are already here.

It’s unconscionable for America to allow so many families to fall into bankruptcy because they can’t pay their medical bills and can’t afford health insurance.  We need to provide universal catastrophic coverage so no one has to fear that a cancer diagnosis will mean losing the family home.  It should be financed by income taxes so that healthy young people contribute to the health care system that will look after them when they wreck their cars, even if they don’t want to buy health insurance.  People at higher income levels can and should pay for their routine health care just as they pay for other services.  A nationalized single-payer system would downgrade American medicine, which has been preeminent all these years because the free market inspired innovation, research, competition, and excellence.

When did “moderate” become a dirty word to Republicans?  Did it occur to anyone that increasing taxes on the super rich might help balance the budget?  It won’t stop them from creating jobs; trust me—they won’t even notice.  The American public isn’t stupid enough to believe that oil companies and billionaires shouldn’t pay taxes while public education suffers and teachers are laid off.  The latest Ryan budget proposal would cut costs by pulling the social safety net from under the very poorest Americans, depriving even children of health care.  Do the religious hard-liners really think that’s what Jesus would do?

It’s sad that running for President has become such a brutal ordeal that many reasonable Republicans decided to sit this one out.  The Republican Party has to realize that many of the people in the vast middle of the political spectrum voted for Bush in 2004, then switched to Obama in 2008.  You won’t get them back by putting forward candidates who are so extreme that they are alienating women, Hispanic voters, and moderates all at the same time.

Oddly enough, I was comforted by the idea that Mitt Romney might really reset his message like an Etch-A-Sketch once the nominating process is over.  He’s had some rational ideas in the past, and understands the concept that free enterprise is good for America.  It’s a shame that the extreme right wing of the Republican party has forced Romney’s rhetoric so far out of the comfort zone of the rest of us, and that any move on his part to tack back toward the middle will be interpreted as dishonest.

At this point, I’m deeply unhappy about my options in November.  I’ve certainly not donated money to either party.  The Democrats are no physician’s friends.  But in the interests of ideological purism, the Republican Party is close to ruining its chances with me, and with the millions of other Americans who are fiscal conservatives but social moderates.  Right now it seems as though there’s no good choice.  Time will tell.

2 COMMENTS

Ouch, Doc, that needle hurt!

“The Obama administration appears to be completely hostile toward physicians and the practice of medicine. The clear agenda is to cut payments to physicians and replace them with mid-level health care personnel. If your goal is to dictate all health care policy from Washington, the last thing you want is to have to deal with physicians who are accustomed to making the best individual decisions for their patients from a background of scientific knowledge. You want less educated workers who will follow your dictates without question.”

I have not gotten the impression that physicians are to be replaced with mid-level health care personnel who are “less educated workers.” I was on Capitol Hill last week and walked in front of the Supreme Court steps as they debated the constitutionality of the healthcare reform act. Protestors on both sides of this equation have many valid concerns, and they were all out in full force. I was there with other physician assistants and physician assistant students to lobby for more inclusion of physician assistants in healthcare legislation.

I feel your pain, as the saying goes, as to your presidential candidate choices.

And another point of agreement that I share with you is that I also drive a Volvo.

[Reply]

Matthew

I had a similar feeling when I heard the Etch-A-Sketch comment. I don’t like to discuss politics but, as a young pediatrician in a single income home, I find myself leaning conservative, as we are still really struggling to stay middle class. I was hoping for some more rational thought out of this race, though.

As a primary care provider, someone who forwent specialty ON PURPOSE for what I saw as my calling, I find the direction taken by the current administration very unsettling. I was disgusted with all the wars and hopeful when President Obama took office. Now I feel strongly he is working hard to replace me with a cheaper mid-level provider in order to expand his wider social goals. I feel my degree and my ability to provide for my family within the modest vision I had are both in jeopardy of being devalued and yet, I do not see hope in the Republican message either.

[Reply]

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