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    Trump, Obamacare, and Why Healthcare Should Be a Right Rather Than a Privilege

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    Opinion
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    John Wight
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    Trump's failure at the second attempt to push legislation repealing and replacing Obamacare through a Republican-controlled Congress comes as further evidence that his administration is marking time towards its inevitable demise.

    That a Republican President cannot get one of his signature domestic policies passed into legislation, one upon which he stood and was elected, is both revelatory and indicative of the near complete lack of authority he now commands in Washington. In truth it has been that way since the very day Donald Trump entered the White House, placed under a veritable siege by a liberal establishment that has and will never forgive him for daring to humiliate a candidate in Hillary Clinton whose right to the presidency was set in stone in their eyes.

    ​This is not in any way to offer words of sympathy to President Trump or his plight. He is a man who is unqualified and unsuited to the rigors of political office. Whether it is his infantile rants delivered via Twitter, whether his ineffable megalomania and narcissism, the way he lurches from one contradictory position, statement and action to another, there is simply no gainsaying the fact he is someone who should be kept away from the nuclear codes as you would a 5 year old from a box of matches.

    ​Add to this the fact that Hillary Clinton, whose record in politics is a monument to mendacity, whose fanatical attachment to conflict and regime change is of the inordinate sort, is even worse than Trump, and we have irrefutable evidence of the extent to which democracy in the land of the free is in crisis.

    ​On the specific question of healthcare, along with a judicial and prison system that makes a mockery out of the tirelessly repeated and fatuous claim to being the "land of liberty," we cannot but impugn cultural values in which barbarism has long been permitted to masquerade as freedom. The freedom for any citizen to arm him or herself with more firepower than a SWAT team, the freedom to be homeless, go hungry, to be destitute, and the freedom to have no healthcare provision or the best that money can buy, this is no freedom at all.

    In 2017 in the United States 11.3 percent of the country's people have no healthcare insurance. This translates to approximately 36 million men, women, and children in the richest economy in the world living on a daily basis with the fear of falling ill or going down to disease or any other chronic condition, knowing that if and when they do they are on their own.

    And this is freedom? This is what passes for a civilized country?

    I have personal experience of what living with no healthcare cover in the land of the free involves. Some 15 years ago, while living in the US, I committed the "crime" of falling ill. Having no health insurance, due to the simple fact that I could not afford it, I found myself queuing up at six in the morning outside a clinic that offered a free consultation to poor uninsured wretches like me. The only problem was that the clinic only saw 30 patients on one day each week. Consequently, the demand was so great that unless you arrived two hours before the clinic opened at 8am, as I had, you would not be seen.

    Obama's attempt to make inroads into the country's healthcare crisis resulted in Obamacare. At the time the nation's liberal commentariat heralded it, and still do today, as a landmark and historic victory for progressive politics. It is a myth, one of the many myths that suffuse Obama's legacy.

    An insurance store advertises Obamacare in San Ysidro, California, U.S., January 25, 2017
    © REUTERS/ Mike Blake
    An insurance store advertises Obamacare in San Ysidro, California, U.S., January 25, 2017

    As US author Chris Hedges writes in a 2010 article on Obamacare, it "reconfirms that our nation is hostage to unchecked corporate greed and abuse." Further on, he cites the analysis of healthcare activist Margaret Flowers, who critiques Obamacare thus: "It requires people to purchase health insurance. It takes public dollars to subsidize the purchase of that private insurance. It not only forces people to purchase this private product, but uses public dollars and gives them directly to these corporations."

    The reality is that Obamacare enshrines the worst of both worlds — neither free and comprehensive at the point of need, and thereby consistent with a society in which healthcare is a right of the common humanity of its citizens rather than a privilege of the wealth of the individual, nor independent of the profit motive that is the very antithesis of that common humanity.

    Abraham Lincoln is considered by many to have been the best US president who ever lived. On the role of government, he famously said:

    "The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but can not do at all, or can not so well do, for themselves — in their separate, and individual capacities."

    There is no more powerful an argument for a single-payer, taxpayer funded and publicly run healthcare system in an advanced society than this.

    Britain's Nye Bevan, meanwhile, the Labour politician who inspired the implementation of the country's much-vaunted National Health Service after the Second World War, put it like this:

    "No society can legitimately call itself civilized if a sick person is denied medical aid because of lack of means."

    The healthcare crisis in the United States is symptomatic of the moral sickness that has and continues to poison the country's cultural values from top to bottom.

    The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.

    Related:

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    Tags:
    US healthcare crisis, public health, democracy, society, human rights, healthcare, health insurance, Obamacare, Trump administration, Republican Party, White House, Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Barack Obama, Washington, United States
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