Terry H. Schwadron
Somehow, winning is not enough for Team Trump, and, to be fair, for most politicians.
There seems to be a need to stomp on the opponent afterwards. It’s not enough to take all credit, even when “credit” is questionable when you are talking about taking away people’s health care policies, but a need to rub it in.
In case of the health bill, for example, there was an awkwardly self-congratulatory beer blast in the White House Rose garden for Republicans, but then there were speeches about the Democrats’ desire to spend billions of dollars on insurers as a favor to donors. In fact, Democrats did want to spend more on supports for insurers, but it was to preserve active health insurance exchanges in rural areas where insurance companies say they will otherwise close down their coverage.
Yesterday’s positive monthly job numbers report turned into a push-and-pull over whether “credit” for a good month should go to President Trump or Obama.
Let’s be clear, lots of these issues have no winners. There is no winning in health care without a serious plan for a single-payer system that simply eliminates all of these ideological arguments about winners and losers. As it is, each side declares themselves winners, and average people scratch their heads wondering why it is so hard to get a medical treatment or a drug knowing that insurance, expensive insurance, will cover it.
But for the moment, I’d rather spend a few minutes on the perceived need for The Gloat.
Freedom Caucus members do it, liberal Democrats do it, centrist Republicans do it — this is not particularly limited to Mr. Trump and company, though they crow louder, more quickly and in a more insulting way than most.
The question I’m really asking is this: Why isn’t it enough just to reach a goal, to show grace to one’s opponents and to gently invite all to participate in what clearly will become the next problem in the area under discussion.
It did not happen after the election, it did not happen on Inauguration Day, it does not happen in legislative battle. Indeed, after last week’s non-resolution of budget talks to keep the federal government in business, Democrats boasted that they had stood up to the President, and President Trump threatened a more severe legislative stance for September when the issue will emerge anew, just because he felt that Democrats had “spiked the football” in an inappropriate celebration of resistance.
Aside from the annoying use of sports metaphors — worse when they are used incorrectly, as White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus did in “punting the ball over the end zone” as if that explained something useful, there is something very disturbing to me about the manner of celebrating reaching goals like spending cuts that put people out of work or eliminating hundreds of environmental regulations that will have an adverse effect on our world.
I understand the theology of such moves, even as I disagree with them, but “achieving” actions that result in harm to others does not strike me as cause for celebration. It is not even clear that President Trump fully understands and approves of everything in the Trumpcare bill; in meeting with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull this week, the President was full of praise for a government-run, single-payer health care system, for example — — as Mr Trump had previously supported in publications and in the campaign — and then doubling down with a tweet. I know winning is important for Donald Trump, but winning at what?
Indeed, what I would prefer is for the President, the Republicans and Democrats, too, to say they have adopted yet another experimental approach to health care, and that this will need just as much adjustment and education as did Obamacare. What I am looking for is for our leaders to take things like health care seriously enough to look at the criticisms for ways to seek more inclusion.
Sorry, Coach Lombardi, Winning is Not Everything!
When teams I work with achieve better reading fluidity among lagging students, or get immigrants involved in a discussion using words they have just learned, or when a musical group I am part of simply clicks and excels, what results is, in fact, its own reward. There is no need for wild public celebration and certainly no need to denounce whatever would be in opposition of such things. We don’t call out other classrooms for their “failures,” or other orchestras who chose different repertoire.
If it is good, let it speak for itself. It your good comes at the price of someone else’s well-being, please consider not celebrating.
Doing the Right Thing in politics clearly is difficult, particularly when we have such a divided country. But it you should happen to momentarily win, don’t make matters worse by grinding your point of view into others’ faces.
As we have seen often enough, the shoe will be on the other foot shortly enough.