“Communist” Russia and the Health Care Debate

A socialist revolution is brewing in America, and it's coming from that communist country Sarah Palin can see from her shores.

A socialist revolution is brewing in America, and it's coming from that communist country Sarah Palin can see from her shores.

Clearly, much misinformation has been spread about the proposed health care reform.  Obama’s plan is in critical condition, crushed and twisted as it is by so much talk about death panels, nationalized health care horror stories, red revolutions and, by natural extension, Russia.

It is hilarious to me that many of the disgruntled right wing citizens at town hall meetings call on Russia to heighten the pitch of their feverish and delusional worries.

For starters, Bill O’Reilly says the health care debate is about socialism, not health care. This sets the stage for all kinds of interesting things to happen.

A Pennsylvania woman was invited on the Fox show “Happening Now,” after saying to Sen. Arlen Specter at a town hall meeting, “I don’t want this country turning into Russia.” Later, on the show, she appears to be reading from a teleprompter and narrates a little bit about herself, saying that she used to be indifferent to politics, but then she started reading about the “Constitution” and the “founders of this country.” And then she concluded that the country was ripping itself apart and health care was going to turn us into Russia.

Lou Dobbs, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and others also attempted to prove that Obama’s health care plan was leading us swiftly towards the path of communism. Their evidence came straight from the mouth of the beast, or I guess that’s what they hoped we’d think. PRAVDA On-line published an editorial saying that America was turning Marxist. Dobbs, Beck, Limbaugh and others asked hypothetically: who knows Communism better than the former mouthpiece of the Party? If the Russians recognize Marxism in Obama’s policies, it must be there! They’ve lived through it!

The part that sucks was, PRAVDA On-line is not the same thing as Pravda, the communist newspaper which existed 1912-1991. Furthermore, the editorial itself has a number of spelling errors and is surrounded by ads for “Russia’s Most Desirable Single Women,” and an article declaring “Pregnant Baby Girl Born in Saudi Arabia.” Read that headline again. Amazing.

In other words, it’s a classy and reliable news source and should be trusted for its American policy analysis.

It’s not that I am surprised by the slippery slope arguments saying expanded government role in health care = socialism. I expect as much.

But its the conflation between Russia and the Soviet Union that really gets my goat. When these people say Russia, they mean Soviet Union. Hell, if they meant, “I don’t want our health care system to be like the health care system of the Russian Federation,” I would agree with them. It’s not a very good system.

How long will it take for Cold War scare-mongering to die? Apparently, a long fucking time. I feel so bad for Russia. It has just about the worst reputation of any country in the paranoid sector of American cultural imagination.

Fortunately, one crazy out there at least knew the proper name for Communist Russia. “This is the Soviet Union, this is Maoist China,” he said to Senator Specter. Well, not exactly. But we’ll take it one step at a time.

–anna

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