Here are some general observations (mostly along party lines) from the Caucus & Coronas event on Tuesday night (co-sponsored by Drinking Liberally):
1. The topic was health care. The featured issue expert was concise and well-spoken. However, I think his portion of the night was short-changed. The issue quickly became quite partisan and the open-question session seemed to avoid any questions that dealt with health care GENERALLY.
2. Republicans are doom and gloom when it comes to this topic. The representative from the Iowa Republican Party strayed far from the bulleted list of where Republicans tend to fall on the issue and instead held his own "the end is near" rant against socialized health care.
3. Some of Mr. Republican's comments included:
"Health care is a commodity. If my appendix bursts, I need someone to sell me an appendectomy."
"Socialized health care failed in Europe and Europeans are fleeing the system. A federal health care program in the U.S. will fail because state needs are too different."
"If you've ever had to deal with an HMO, think of how much worse it is to deal with the IRS. Who would you rather have in charge?"
I cannot tell you how much I find wrong with this first statement, which is why I guess I'm a liberal. I don't view health care as a commodity. I view it as a universal right. Sue me.
Per the second comment, I don't believe that socialized medicine has failed in Europe. Also on this note, Mr. Republican claimed that anywhere from 50-70% (he was unclear as to which asinine number he thought it was) Canadians come to America for their health care.
As for the third comment, it's really not even a good analogy. So Republicans want us to choose the lesser of two evils? Those are the options they give us? Not the best we can do? Shame on them.
4. Jesus Estrada spoke as a representative of the Iowa Democratic Party. He was concise and brief. He said, simply, that Democrats believe in full funding of Medicare and Medicaid, that pharmaceutical ads should be limited, there should be coverage for every single person and that substance abuse and mental health services should be covered by insurance the same way physical health care is. What a concept!
5. Basically, here's the difference: Republicans can't follow the rules. Democrats keep it nice and brief.
Republicans really don't believe the health care system can be improved and know that their pockets wouldn't be padded as nicely if we went to some type of universal health care coverage. Democrats take money from health care lobbyists, too, but I think that some of the 2008 candidates really see the need for a significant change (if not a complete overhaul) of the American system and are willing to put the needs of the American people ahead of special interests.
There is a lot to be done with health care in this country, and overall, it was nice to see young people caring about an issue that is often seen only as affecting "old people." We'll be old some day too, folks, and the healing has to start now.