Monte Wolverton Monte Wolverton, 2/5/2010 [Archive]

Why Republicans Just Don't Care

Why Republicans Just Don't Care

By Monte Wolverton

With the balance of power tilting rightward again, it looks like significant healthcare reform may not happen any time soon. I must admit that I have been baffled by the conservative stand on healthcare reform, because it involves basic human needs that any prosperous country should ensure for its citizenry. It almost seems as though Republicans don't care about people. Here's what they do seem to care about:

Money. Healthcare reform will bankrupt the country, they argue. Of course there are other costly items like the military and shock and awe, but that's different.

Entitlements. Conservative friends react sneeringly when I suggest that healthcare is a basic human right. The principle seems to be that people don't deserve anything unless they earn it, because they might 'take advantage of the system.'

The status quo.Those who have comfy 'Cadillac' plans may have to settle for less. We may have to wait in line to see doctors (like we don't now?).

The above points reflect a conservative assumption: Frugality trumps human needs. Even people of faith (who I thought were supposed to care) buy into this concept -- as many of them are the most ardent Republicans.

But I have a theory. My theory explains why many people who pride themselves in being far more principled, moral and ethical than their liberal counterparts can seem to be such uncaring automatons.

Once upon a time in 16th century France, there lived a young man named John Calvin. A would-be attorney, Calvin was swept up in the Protestant Reformation. By the age of 27 the brilliant lawyer-turned-theologian had published his Institutes of the Christian Religion, which developed into a ponderous tome that would dictate the faith of millions of Protestants down to our day.

A particularly sticky theological questionthat young Calvin tackled was, 'Why does God 'save' some humans while others are 'lost'? His answer was predestination: God creates some people for heaven -- but most people are predestined to hell and there's not a darn thing you can do about it. Unless you're lucky enough to be one of the 'elect,' you'd better get used to a really, really warm climate.

In Geneva, Switzerland, Calvin turned his severe theology into practice. He and his associates took control of the city, declaring it to be an independent republic and instituting religious martial law. Private homes were subject to random searches. Brutal punishments were meted out for religious infractions. Those who did not agree with Calvin's tyrannical dogma were declared heretics and executed, some by burning at the stake.

While scholars debate the significance of Calvin and his theology, Calvinism has had a profound influence on American thought. The Pilgrims were Calvinists, fleeing persecution in England so they could have the freedom, ironically, to practice their despotic religion in the New World. Centuries later, millions of Americans are still influenced by Calvinism and the idea of predestination -- including many Baptists, the largest group of Protestants in America, and a significant component of conservative Evangelicalism, a pillar of the GOP.

Here's the healthcare nexus. If you believe that most human beings are essentially write-offs, then you won't be inclined to spend much money on them, will you? You might send a few bucks to help out those poor folks down in Haiti, for example, but, like Pat Robertson, you might believe that most of them are cursed because they made a pact with the devil, or they committed some other nasty sin.

And, while you might give charitable contributions to a few of our own hapless citizens whom you think are deserving of your help, the last thing you will want to do is make actual laws that will ensure that healthcare is provided for millions who desperately need it. After all, they're probably predestined to fourth-degree burns for all eternity anyway.

So there you have it. The apparent lack of GOP care about healthcare reform makes sense to me now (my apologies to any Republicans, Baptists or Calvinists who really DO care). Some of my Calvinist friends may want to burn me at the stake. Thankfully, that's still illegal, but with the current tilt to the right, stake-burning may be making a big comeback soon. Some say Texans are thinking about it.

Monte Wolverton is an editorial cartoonist who lives in Southern California, his weekly cartoons are distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. Monte can be reached at monte@wolvertoon.com

This column has been edited by the author. Representations of fact and opinions are solely those of the author.



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