Ditch the party and join the team

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - By Ben S. Car­son

When I was a teenager, we loved to play base­ball, and in my neigh­bor­hood there were two teams. Both of them were quite good, but they were bit­ter ri­vals. It was not un­com­mon for fights to break out when they played each other.

On one very mem­o­rable day, a very boast­ful team from another neigh­bor­hood chal­lenged our neigh­bor­hood to a game. Their team was quite for­mi­da­ble by rep­u­ta­tion, and nei­ther of our teams would likely have been able to beat them. We de­cided to put aside our dif­fer­ences and use our strong­est play­ers to form one neigh­bor­hood team to take up the chal­lenge. It was one of the most mem­o­rable games in my life, and we ab­so­lutely slaugh­tered the com­pe­ti­tion. That was the be­gin­ning of many last­ing friend­ships and the end of an un­pro­duc­tive rivalry.

The rea­son for the great suc­cess of our new neigh­bor­hood team was a recog­ni­tion that we were much stronger when we com­bined our forces and stopped fight­ing each other. Is there a les­son to be learned here by those in­di­vid­u­als who rep­re­sent all Amer­i­cans in both houses of Congress, the ex­ec­u­tive branch and the Supreme Court?

The 14th verse in the 11th chap­ter of the book of Proverbs states that there is safety in the mul­ti­tude of coun­selors. This means that you are much more likely to be suc­cess­ful if you’re will­ing to lis­ten to an ar­ray of opin­ions re­gard­ing an im­por­tant de­ci­sion. The health and well-be­ing of all Amer­i­can cit­i­zens is an ex­traor­di­nar­ily im­por­tant is­sue, and now that the health plan that was put forth by only one party has been shown to be fa­tally flawed, it may be a very good time to put aside our dif­fer­ences and com­bine our strengths to ac­com­plish a very worth­while goal.

There is no ques­tion that we need health care re­form, but there is a ma­jor ques­tion about whether it should be some­thing that is im­posed upon the peo­ple by a gov­ern­ment that thinks it knows what is best for ev­ery­one, or whether it would be bet­ter to cre­ate a sys­tem that pre­serves the free­dom of choice and lib­erty of all Amer­i­cans?

Usu­ally when a com­plex is­sue is tack­led, it is wise to de­fine the ba­sic goals of ev­ery­one in­volved. I think it would be wise for a health care re­form plan to in­clude the fol­low­ing:

Ba­sic med­i­cal and sur­gi­cal cov­er­age for ev­ery sin­gle Amer­i­can.

Re­spon­si­bil­ity for health care re­main­ing in the hands of the pa­tient and the care­giver with­out in­ter­fer­ence from the gov­ern­ment or some third party.

Ab­so­lute free­dom to choose the type of insurance plan that fits the per­sonal needs of each in­di­vid­ual and fam­ily.

A mech­a­nism to take care of cat­a­strophic health is­sues and chronic de­bil­i­tat­ing con­di­tions. A mech­a­nism (which most coun­tries have) to pro­vide for in­di­vid­u­als who sus­tain in­juries from med­i­cal treat­ments that does not re­quire com­plex and ex­pen­sive le­gal in­volve­ment.

A way to pay for all of it in a man­ner that in­volves ev­ery­one on a pro­por­tional ba­sis.

I am aware of sev­eral plans that have been of­fered and can pro­vide an ex­cel­lent ba­sis to be­gin dis­cussing some­thing that works for ev­ery­one. Let’s stop say­ing there is only one way and that no one else has a plan. Such re­marks are false and coun­ter­pro­duc­tive.

We must have open minds as we look at al­ter­na­tives and rec­og­nize that we as Amer­i­cans can be ex­tremely cre­ative and have a long his­tory of pro­duc­ing spec­tac­u­lar an­swers for com­plex prob­lems. If we re­lin­quish pride and party af­fil­i­a­tion and pro­ceed openly while wel­com­ing pub­lic scru­tiny, we can get this done quickly. In the in­terim, we must pro­vide a bridge of insurance for those in­di­vid­u­als and fam­i­lies who lost the cov­er­age they had as a re­sult of Oba­macare. The law was a costly mis­take, but at least it started us on the road to much-needed health care re­form, and its au­thors should be proud of that fact.

As we solve this prob­lem, and I know we will, let us re­mem­ber that many of the peo­ple who pre­ceded us in this na­tion gave ev­ery­thing they had, in­clud­ing their lives, in or­der that we might be free. Many of their an­ces­tors came here from other parts of the world in or­der to es­cape so­ci­eties that told them what they could say and what they could not say, where they could live, what they could do for a liv­ing, how much money they could make, what they had to buy, as well as a va­ri­ety of other con­trols. Whether we are Democrats, Repub­li­cans or in­de­pen­dents, we must not for­get that we can­not sim­ply im­pose our will on our fel­low cit­i­zens, no mat­ter how noble we be­lieve our cause to be. That is al­ways the ini­tial, tainted seed for the es­tab­lish­ment of a to­tal­i­tar­ian gov­ern­ment. Let us learn from this ex­pe­ri­ence and move on in a united fash­ion to solve this and the many other prob­lems that face our na­tion. Ben S. Car­son is pro­fes­sor emer­i­tus of neu­ro­surgery at Johns Hop­kins Univer­sity.

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