My best friend is a pharmacist in small-town Minnesota. She's also a lifelong Republican. She hasn't voted Democratic once in her 33 years and she helped deliver the GOP the legislative majority in Minnesota for the first time in 38 years. The two of us rarely talk politics, because it inevitably leads to a fight.
But when we talked about the impending government shutdown in Minnesota it almost seemed like she was hearing me for the first time in our 20 years as friends. I emphatically stated how refusing to raise taxes on the richest 1% of Minnesotans -- which the GOP is currently doing -- doesn't help the budget. How it doesn't help the people of Minnesota. How it only helps Karl Rove, Grover Norquist, Charles Koch, Rush Limbaugh and other Ayn Rand-ian sociopaths who, to quote Michael Caine in The Dark Knight, "Just want to watch the world burn."
All of this and no objection made its way from her lips. I decided to try my luck and push it further by not just naming names, but by naming parties. "Republicans are ruining the quality of life for at least 50% of this country so the 1% whose quality of life couldn't get any better have a little extra money to put into their offshore accounts." I waited. Still no objection. Had the fight gone out of her?
A few days later she gave me a call. She sounded down. Almost defeated. "I've had trouble sleeping, lately," she said. "I feel like I'm drowning," she told me, "20% of my customers won't be able to afford their meds if the government shuts down. Some of them will die. I don't know what I can do to help. You were right. You were right the whole time. I'll never vote Republican again."
My jaw hit the floor.
I have always been convinced the majority of people are good. And that the bulk of those who support the likes of Michele Bachmann aren't "evil," but misinformed. Or maybe they're just too trusting.
We have a corporate mainstream media telling us that black is white on a daily basis. That to find the source of our problems, we need to look down and never up. How can you look up at Goldman Sachs if you're looking down at teacher unions? How can you look up at Donald Trump if you're looking down at someone like me?
Someone on Medicaid.
I have held myself back from engaging fully in this debate as my home state is at risk of crumbling around me. Why? Because I've been ashamed to admit that I need, and receive, help. That I have epilepsy, can't get health insurance and that I'm on Medicaid.
Where did this shame come from? Could it be from the same people who have convinced others that black is white and up is down? When did they convince me that I need to feel shame, as they remain shameless while destroying the world's economy demanding their unneeded tax cuts? As they remain shameless while kicking people to the curb as they request their bail-outs? When did I start seeing the thousands my Medicaid costs as something worse than the billions the oil companies get in tax breaks every year? When did I start looking down, instead of up?
Maybe it was around the time an oil company tax break repeal failed in the U.S. Senate, but I received a letter telling me my Medicaid was just too damn expensive in today's economy. I, along with over 100,000 other Minnesotans, received what we simply refer to as "the letter" a few weeks ago stating that I would likely lose my health care on July 1st. It told me if I'm too sick to essentially "hold it" to go to the hospital. "The letter" told all the elderly, sick, poor and disabled to get their care at the hospital, if their care cannot wait.
Oh yes. I'm sure that will save the tax payers of Minnesota a ton.
And why were we directed to take our ills to the hospital or to simply hold onto them and pray that we live until the super-rich are satiated? Because the GOP in the state of Minnesota will not raise taxes on its richest citizens. They will not compromise even slightly with Democratic Governor Mark Dayton, who has already compromised significantly. And they will shut down the Minnesota Government before angering Sean Hannity.
Their first time in a majority in 38 years and what do they do right out of the gate? Threaten to shut the whole damn thing down if they can't remove the safety net that has done Minnesota proud for decades. Some people just want to watch the world burn. Or at least Minnesota. Did I mention the legislative arsonists are going to continue paying themselves their salary if the Government shuts down because of them? I guess welfare is okay if they think it's ... well, fair (sorry, couldn't resist).
If Minnesota Republicans get their way, I'll have to cancel the appointment I have scheduled with my neurologist on the 15th of July. My July 22nd appointment with the cardiologist will also most likely have to be canceled. I'll be paying a small fortune to buy my meds out of pocket (and why isn't that considered a tax hike, again?), or I'll risk my life by not taking them at all. But I would, literally, rather die than see Mark Dayton give another inch on this. I would, literally, rather die than see this new nationalized GOP (one party, under Karl Rove) get their way in my home state. The bullying ends here.Agree? Disagree? Email Alex!