Wednesday morning’s Wall Street Journal crossword puzzle had the following clue: “Cowardly lion’s lack.” As a child, I watched the Wizard of Oz annually on TV followed by recurring nightmares, but it has been many years since I saw it. As I dredged my memory, I remembered the Scarecrow wanting a brain and the Tin Man needing a heart, but it took a few seconds to translate the lion’s desire for courage into the five-letter word, nerve.
I used to regularly read the Wall Street Journal over breakfast. Since they introduced their crossword puzzle in the main section, that gets my attention first. Instead of frustrating and depressing news, my brain gets a work-out. But this clue led me down the path of replacing the words ‘cowardly lion’ with Republican Congress. Actually, the Republicans need brains, heart and courage, qualities they either lack or hide from sight (conceal: 23 across).
I understand that most politicians of both parties want to ensure their own re-election. Maybe it is even true that overall they will be better for the country than ‘the other guy,’ even if to do so they need to hide, duck (evade: 14 down), weave and bob from tough positions. Some are good people and hard workers who just aren’t articulate; others don’t even realize how enmeshed they are in a corrupting system that confers unhealthy levels of power. Most politicians don’t have what it takes to be truly visionary and wise leaders. But for a party to have not even one person who can stand up and cut through the fog to speak passionately about healthcare in a forceful, caring and intelligent way? That party is an embarrassment.
Perhaps it isn’t a coincidence that the movie Dunkirk is showing now. I haven’t seen it, but World War II is a part of history that is somewhat known to most people. Here is a tragic fact about war. When soldiers in World War II marched off to fight, they knew that they might not come back. The sweethearts, wives and children they left behind might end up filling the resulting void in their lives with someone not as worthy as the soldier who sacrificed his life. Going to war was still the right thing to do. In the bigger picture, it was the only thing to do for the sake of those very sweethearts, wives and children. The survival of their nation was at stake.
Healthcare is a huge issue that cannot be reduced to slogans. The slogans the Obama administration used to push it were often intentional lies such as, “If you like the plan you have, you can keep it. If you like the doctor you have, you can keep your doctor, too.” Any reasonable person could see that wouldn’t be the case. That anyone principled or intelligent could vote for a plan that their leader, Nancy Pelosi, said had to be passed before it could be understood is downright mind-boggling.
Most Americans understand that no plan will be perfect. But if each and every politician would vote by placing brains, heart and courage above the desire to be re-elected or to amass money and/or power, we could start down a path to actually improving health-care in this nation. And yes, on this and other pressing issues, while clearly we, thank God, are not at war in a literal sense, I do think national survival is at stake. The two political parties currently represent dramatically different paths for the country. While the establishments of both parties are out of touch with regular Americans, decisions being made today will lead America on a path that embraces the country’s founding ideals or overturns them.
If politicians lose their next election, they still have lives to live (with cushy pensions). That option is often not available to those who patriotically marched (and continue to march) off to any of our country’s wars. That the Republicans don’t have a Churchill is clear, but surely the Chamberlains should be disgraced.
I apologize for my tone. I know I sound utterly frustrated and quite disgusted with both political parties. I am. At least on this question, most Americans agree.