The so-called “debate” about health care reform is not a debate, and is not anything like a debate.   A debate is:

a discussion, as of a public question in an assembly, involving opposing viewpoints

What we’ve been seeing are no discussions.   Instead, what we’ve been seeing are near-riots incited by smear-and-fear politics aimed not at achieving a particular type of health care reform but instead absolutely no health care reform.

Let’s start with the video.   From CBS News:

Here’s Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL) trying to hold a town hall forum in Tampa:

Another angle:

Here’s Rep. John Dingle (D-MI) trying to hold a town hall forum in Troy:

As Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) was trying to speak with constituents, a mob followed him around yelling “just say no”:

Rep. Tim Bishop (D-NY) had to be escorted to his car by police after protesters got out of control.

Protesters hung an effigy of Rep. Frank Kratovil (D-MD) outside his district office.

An attendee at a town hall of Rep. Gabrielle Gifford (D-AZ) dropped a gun and the police were called for safety concerns.

Some protesters have brought Nazi references to protests.

If left unchecked, this level of hatred brewing has the potential to boil over and produce despicable consequences.

Is this a true grassroots opposition to health care reform?   No.   Rachel Maddow explains:

In the end, a few things seem clear to me:

There is no proposed “government takeover” of health care. There is merely a government-run public option being proposed to compete against the established health care insurance corporations.   You like your health care option you have now?   Great!   Keep it!   You want another option that may cost less and allow you to be covered even with pre-existing conditions?   Great!   There would be an option for that, too.   This is the debate: having options, having choices, saving money, saving lives.

Those who argue a government bureaucrat will stand between them and their doctor miss the point and the irony of their argument.   There already is a bureaucrat between them and their doctor: an insurance corporation. The difference between the two, though, is that the insurance corporation bureaucrat cares more about turning a profit than he does making sure you get the care you need at affordable prices.   Corporations are out for profit.   That’s what they do.

Government already runs health care. It’s called Medicare.   You don’t hear anyone demonizing Medicare.   Why?   Because it’s popular.   Seems to me, then, we have a working, satisfying government-run health care program already.

The health care problem is about three types of people: those without health care insurance, those with coverage but are under-insured, and those who cannot sustain the financial costs of their insurance plans.   Real health care reform must cover all three groups.

Those who argue people who have no health insurance still have access to health care via an emergency room overlook the cost and, again, the irony. The costs of emergency room visits are exorbitantly higher than the costs of long-term preventative care through regular visits to doctors.   The irony comes in because this, like Medicare, is also socialized medicine because the public foots the bill for those who can’t afford to pay for their emergency room visits (fact sheet from the National Coalition on Health Care).

People in states that are net beneficiaries of the federal government and receive more federal money than what they pay should think twice about castigating the federal government for not being able to do something right.   If these people find so much fault with the federal government that they think it couldn’t run a health care insurance option, perhaps they should lobby their politicians to stop allowing their state to accept federal dollars.   According to the Tax Foundation in 2005 (most recent available data), Mississippi received $2.02 in federal spending for every $1.00 of federal taxes spent.   The liberal elite in Connecticut, though, received $0.69 for every $1.00 spent.   Curious that states with higher populations of people that argue for a smaller federal government are those that need the federal government more. (Thanks, Charlie, for pointing this out to me).

Finally, those who call themselves Christians should must believe providing health care for all is a moral imperative.   Jesus taught Christians to love their neighbors as themselves.   Isn’t ensuring everyone has adequate coverage doing what Jesus would have done?   Caring for the sick and the poor?   So if any of you protesters call yourselves Christians, think about what it means before you argue against health care for all.

My point is this: health care is a serious issue we face today.   Costs keep rising; people can’t afford coverage or are denied or dropped because of so-called pre-existing conditions.   What we need is real debate: how do we cover everyone, how do we pay for it, etc.   Instead of these intellectual conversations, the health care debate has devolved into a neanderthalistic competition on who can shout-down and disrupt the most number of democracy-serving town hall meetings that aim to spur information sharing and gathering.

These organized riots are as sick as the current unsustainable health care situation in this country.   We can do better.   And we must do better.