Benishek fielded several suggestions on how to increase funding for Medicare, ranging from ending oil subsidies to increasing taxes on the wealthiest two percent, suggestions that Benishek summarily dismissed.
Benishek also displayed a shocking lack of self-awareness about his level of knowledge of some key facts. “There are no government subsidies for oil,” he told one woman who suggested ending the very real subsidies given to oil corporations to help defray the cost of Medicare.
At one point, the discussion turned to health care reform. Benishek, who served as a medical doctor before he was elected to Congress in 2010, was thrust onto the national stage after his predecessor Bart Stupak cast the deciding vote in favor of the Affordable Care Act in 2010. He told the audience that the United States has the best health care system in the world, before he was literally laughed at by several attendees.
“We have the highest life spans in the world,” argued Benishek. Several women in the audience quickly pointed out that in fact, many countries with universal health care place higher than the United States in terms of life expectancy, including Canada, Sweden, Norway and the Netherlands. The United States ranks 50th, just behind South Korea and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
“I don’t believe that’s true,” said Benishek.
“How can you not know that, you’re a medical doctor?” one woman replied.
This is part of a trend I see far too frequently on the right (remember Mitch McConnell vis a vis the “war on women”?): the assumption that something must be true because it feels true. It’s not an error that’s specific to any particular ideology, either; it’s the same thing that makes you wonder how a TV show you never watch could possibly still be on the air. You’re wrapped up in how things have worked for you that you just assume that’s how it is everywhere. You’ll notice that everyone claiming that the US has the best health care system in the world are people who have only been exposed to the best it has to offer; they’re not looking at it in its entirety. To someone who’s had a relatively easy walk in front of them, it sure seems like our medical care is awesome and you can be a millionaire if you just put some elbow grease into it.
Where we do have a left/right divide is in the glorification of the “gut”. Conservatives all too frequently snort and sneer at “higher-educated elites” and scoff at eggheads, worshiping at the altar of good ol’ fashioned common sense. Now, common sense is great, and sometimes you have to stop overcomplicating things and simply call it like it is, but when you build an entire platform around that, it results in a wave of dopes who think that any ol’ instinctive assumption that crosses their cortex just has to be true.
Friend of the Razor Ryan and I chit chatted about this a bit, and we came to the conclusion that, by and large, lefties will call out their own for stuff like this whereas the right does far less frequently. I’ve hopped on the side of Rick Santorum and Trent Lott, and I’ve raked Al Franken and Barack Obama over the coals. To me, there’s no satisfaction in “winning” if it’s based on falsehoods. A debate isn’t “won” simply by flummoxing the other person, it’s by proving yourself to be correct. And frankly I’m even more angry when my side does it, because it undermines everyone else’s efforts thanks to guilt by association.
Anyway, big ol’ tirade over. Just another doofy Gopper. Move along.