September 19, 2009

Why I Could Never Be President

President Obama recently came to my city for a health care rally, and I was one of the fifteen thousand enthusiastic attendees. He pitched his health care reform plan, and for the record, I support it, even if I have some reservations about it. Mr. Obama's approval rating has been slipping lately. When assessing his performance, I count myself in the "approve" column, and I'd vote for him again if I could.

The reason I could never be president is that it seemed like the average IQ of the crowd that day was right around the 60 mark. I mean really, I couldn't believe some of these people.
  • After the President used empirical evidence and logical reasoning to describe some of the failings of our current health care system, the crowd's response was, "We have to do something!!" I got the impression that no one had any idea what that something should be, or even where to start.

  • It concerns me greatly when people have very strong opinions on topics about which they have limited knowledge, even if I happen to agree with those opinions.

  • The atmosphere was very us-versus-them. We are benevolent and they are greedy. We believe tax dollars should be shared with the sick and they want to let people die so they can keep their money.

  • The truth is, the health issue is not nearly that simple, nor is the tax issue. Conservatives have legitimate concerns about the health plan just as much as liberals have legitimate concerns about our current system. Instead of addressing the other side's concerns, our political discourse has devolved into name calling.

    Understanding the issue is not important; forming tribes and outgroups is. Democrats accuse Republicans of name calling, and Republics accuse Democrats of it, and both sides say the other side does it more. Let's please stop this nonsense and start having some intellectual discussions based on logic and evidence.

  • The president listed some features of his plan: insurance companies would not be able to put caps on coverage, they could not exclude customers with preexisting conditions, and they would have to compete against a publicly subsidized insurance organization.

  • The crowd went wild. Again I hesitatingly agree with the President's plan for various reasons, but I also recognize that it has downsides. You can't add those extra burdens on insurance companies and not expect premiums to go up, all else being equal. But again, the crowd was one-sided as could be, and failed to even consider the opposing arguments.

So the reason I could not be president is that I'd have to work and fight for a bunch of narrow-minded, ignorant sheep. Mr. Obama is smarter that this; he does see both sides, as demonstrated in some of his interviews. But the very people he is fighting for don't even understand or appreciate the reasons for the battle. That's why I could never be president.

In our classrooms, we need to teach critical thinking skills to our students. Take the other person's perspective. Use logic. Understand the difference between normative and positive statements. Be smart.

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