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Shades of Northern Ireland 

San Luis Obispo

I am embarrassed and somewhat ashamed with what passes as health care reform discussions in recent public forums. There is yet to be a single bill put on the floor of either the House or the Senate for a vote. As I write this, both houses are still in recess. In their absence, a fringe minority has garnered TV airtime with outlandish claims about health care reform.

From that old straw-man warning of “socialized medicine” to the blatantly false claims about “death panels,” August has surely been the silly season for the issue. Much of the rhetoric is familiar rehash, but the tone and the images have taken on a much more dispiriting tack.

We verge on becoming a divided nation, without the outright violence of a Northern Ireland in its worst times, but just as surely deaf and blind to rational discussion.  This is not in our best interests, in my opinion. And it’s sad to see it happen.

There are many conservative ideals that deserve a fair national hearing. That’s a part of the national discourse we hold up as an example of American democracy. Their rational concerns, though, seem to have been hijacked by a misguided, extremist minority.

I’m unabashedly a liberal Democrat, yet it’s the nation’s loss to lose some considered conservative perspectives. Some kid, somewhere, sometime may well ask,

“What did you do during the tea-baggers’ revolt?” I’d be ashamed to say I painted swastikas on signs or put a Hitler moustache on a picture of our president and called him a Nazi.

Readers Poll

What is the worst parking system in SLO County?

  • The now-closed Oklahoma Avenue safe parking site.
  • Paso Robles' downtown parking kiosks.
  • Downtown SLO.
  • I walk and take the bus.

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