The televised Health Care Summit highlighted the new reality of American politics. It has become a sport or, if not sport, a high-stakes game of Survivor. At least thats the way Fox News Channel, MSNBC and CNN would like you to see it. They want you to tune in to see which side, the Democrats or the Republicans, will score the most points in the latest tracking poll.
Who will be portrayed as the latest villain? Who will stand out to become the MVP? And who will be shot down in flames?
Like it or not, politics have become a daily competition for your support and your vote. If President Obama scores with a speech or a proposal, the RNC with Fox and Limbaugh as cheerleaders, try to rally their base with appeals for fundraising, letter writing, phone calls and demonstrations to counter it. If John Boehner or Mitch McConnell score, the DNC with the MoveOn cheer squad immediately ask for money and petitions to smack down the opposition.
If the issues facing America weren’t so serious, this might all be great fun. But creating policy based on the ever-changing opinions of an under-informed public is a lousy way to govern.
Both sides need to stop trying to score points and do what they were elected to do: Solve problems for the American people. We still have thousands of Americans in harms way in two wars. We have millions who are unemployed and losing their homes. And according to the latest statistics, 33,000 people will lose their lives this year for lack of health insurance. Many more will face bankruptcy as a result of catastrophic illness.
These issues are too important for gamesmanship.