I take a slightly different lesson from this last election. I would argue that voters across the political spectrum are entirely disgusted with politicians of both parties. Yes, Hillary had her little clique and Trump had his. But when I spoke with friends and neighbors and people with whom I work, the dominant motivation was voting <i>against</i> a candidate rather than for one. As I’ve thought about this over the last several months, it dawned on me that a good many Americans no longer have faith in <i>either</i> political party to govern effectively. That they vote at all is an expression of anger rather than an expression of aspiration.
The health care debacle just past is a perfect example of government dysfunction and the battle for ACA wasn’t much better. Here the issue is the health of children who will grow to be the work force, the government, the light of tomorrow. The issue for many hard working Americans is whether, even with insurance, they could afford to survive a heart attack or cancer.
Yet what no politician is willing to tell Americans is that while we spend roughly 18% of GDP on health care — almost $10,000 for every living American — we achieve only middling results compared to our OECD peers who spend on average half that amount. A recent Commonwealth Fund report ranked America dead last of 11 nations studied for a suite of outcomes. But to put a finer point on this, that 9% of GDP that we <i>waste</i> every year amounts to $1.2 trillion. If we spent the OECD average on health care we would save enough to eliminate the budget deficit (roughly $550 billion), provide a free public university education of all high school graduates who want one (roughly $75 billion), and have almost $600 billion left for infrastructure repair and for gold lame’ curtains for the Trump White House.
Of course fixing what is wrong with American health care involves a great deal more than moving to a universal health care system like the ones enjoyed by every other major industrialized nation on the planet. There are many oxen to be gored and all of those oxen are big political contributors. So … yeah, maybe next session.
The political class has played rope-a-dope with voters quite successfully for decades. But while most voters aren’t well informed on details such as the cornucopia of feathered nests that make health care financing <i>their</i> problem, they are beginning to look around and say, in effect, WTF? They’ve worked hard, they’ve struggled to raise children who will be a credit to their nation, yet they keep getting handed the dirty end of the stick.
I agree that the Republic is great because of our people. But it is delusional to expect that without significant change in the political structure of the country, people will continue to “return to a place where we are all proud to call ourselves American.”