Extremism in the pursuit of pragmatism is no vice.
Notwithstanding Barry Goldwater’s mantra “Extremism in the cause of liberty is no vice,” it has dire consequences. Look at the extremist political ideology in the United States and the religious fanatacism in the Middle East, and you see the suffering they cause.
Adherents to the belief that Islam is the only true religion, and nonbelievers are evil infidels, are so twisted in their thinking that they believe cutting non-Muslims’ heads off not only is not evil, but is a noble undertaking that puts them in good stead with Allah.
In the U.S., most Republicans in Congress thought in 2013 that shutting down the government with resulting suffering and inconvenience to their constituents was preferable to allowing health care reform to take effect and allow millions to obtain health insurance. Why? Because to them, government is bad. No matter if it works in pragmatic ways for the benefit of the largest possible number of people, it’s evil because … well, because it’s government. There is no reason behind the position, just blind ideology. The effects of their ideology on people isn’t important; the ideology is what’s paramount.
That ideological nonsense has found a home in the Florida Legislature, which parallels the U.S. Congress in its radically conservative ideology. In both, Republicans control both houses, with the Senate favoring less-extreme positions than the unyielding House of Representatives. House members take the stance that it’s their way or the highway. There is no room for compromise. Like the fanatical Muslims, theirs is the righteous way, and any other way is wrong.
Constitution? What constitution?
Thus, when the Florida Senate refused to bow to the whims of the House on the issue of expanding Medicaid coverage for the poor and disabled, House members picked up their marbles and went home with three days remaining in the annual legislative session and many items unresolved and no budget adopted. To Florida residents in possession of their faculties, those legislators had lost their marbles. The Florida Supreme Court declared the action unconstitutional, but it did no good. There’ll be no punishment for their flagrant flouting of the law. The Republicans are insistent that the Constitution be upheld – except when it works against their foolish purposes.
Florida’s chameleonic governor
Florida Gov. Rick Scott
And the state’s governor, Rick Scott (alias Lord Valdemort), is 100 percent behind them. During the election campaign, he favored providing health care to those who couldn’t afford it. But the voters, fooled once by the then-corrupt corporate executive and now-corrupt politician, let themselves be deceived again, voting to keep him in office. The election over, this consummate charlatan reversed his stance and opposed rendering assistance to the 830,000 uninsured Floridians who can’t get Obamacare or Medicaid.
Florida House Speaker Steve Crisafulli
As a Palm Beach Post editorial (clumsily) said, “Giving them a way to buy Medicaid managed care plans would likely have brought billions of federal tax dollars to flow into Florida, stimulating the economy and creating tens of thousands of jobs.” House Speaker Steve Crisafulli justified sending legislators home by calling the proposed Medicaid expansion immoral because it adds to the federal deficit – “as if,” the Post said, “Florida didn’t already accept $23.5 billion worth of federal dollars” for a list of other projects. Of course, leaving the poor without medical care is perfectly moral, and much preferable for lowering the federal debt than requiring the obscenely rich to pay more income taxes.
How dare they?
Furthermore, Gov. Scott and the House ignored for two years the federal government’s warning that the state must expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, or sacrifice $1.3 billion in federal hospital subsidies to make up for nonpayments by low-income patients. So now Scott, full of righteous indignation, is suing the Obama administration to get that money. In all, the refusal to expand Medicaid eligibility will cost the state about $9 billion worth of economic growth over three years.
It might be worse. If the U.S. Supreme Court rules against the Obama administration in a case this summer, another one million Floridians will lose their subsidized health insurance.
Think before you vote.
When, oh when, will people realize that ignorance and ideological prejudices result in decisions in the voting booths that come back to haunt them.