Sit The Hell Down Meghan McCain, And Listen To A Fable
Early this morning, in what appears to have been a brief moment of some kind of clarity, Meghan McCain tweeted out a missive in which she seems to have considered that she and the rest of the "America is the greatest country in the world" brigade may have been slightly mistaken in their judgment.
I think one of the biggest heartbreaks for those of us who have said for years that this is the greatest country in the world — is it was literally unfathomable that we could be a mere 4 weeks away from complete and utter calamity… that our institutions are broken beyond repair.
It was not unfathomable to me, nor to anyone else who realized that we needed a national health care system and a solid safety net. It was not unfathomable to anyone who wasn't so blinded by pride and patriotism that they were unable to look around the world and see that other countries had their shit together in these ways a lot more than we did.
She has since deleted it. Probably after taking a look at the crap her husband is publishing over on The Federalist.
Cause that could get awkward.
One of the primary ways we instill morality and ideals in children is through fables and morality tales. One of the most famous of these fables is the story of The Ant and the Grasshopper. It's a short story, and not a very good one. It's winter, and a grasshopper walks up to a bunch of ants who are chowing down on some wheat and asks for a bite. The ants then ask the grasshopper what he was doing all summer if he didn't have any food. He says he was so busy making music that he forgot to store food up for winter. The ants then let the grasshopper starve, telling him that he can dance through the winter as well.
I've never liked this fable much. I also never liked that one Twilight Zone episode where the guy won't share his fallout shelter with his friends who weren't "smart enough" to build fallout shelters of their own. Sure, people should always do their best to prepare, but I also don't believe there's any sin worth the death penalty. I'd rather share than have anyone die because I didn't.
Generally speaking, conservatives like to think of themselves as the ants. They love the idea of "personal responsibility." They love thinking to themselves "Well gee, those poor people wouldn't be poor if they'd worked as hard as I did!" They long for the day when they can sit their with their big ol' grain of wheat and smugly say to the poor grasshoppers of the world "Well, guess you shouldn't have danced all summer, huh! PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY!"
But in reality, as I have said many times, "personal responsibility" is irresponsible as hell. If all of the grasshoppers were just left to die, it would probably destroy the ecosystem. And if that bomb had actually come and destroyed the planet, that bomb shelter Twilight Zone guy could have ended up like that other Twilight Zone guy.
America talked a real good game about responsibility, but other countries the world over were the ones actually being responsible. They were building up their health care systems, they were building up their social safety nets, paying taxes. Maybe they had to tax some rich people more than those rich people would have liked to be taxed, but they realized that if they wanted to have a functioning society, that this was a sacrifice they would have to make.
We were, however, too busy spending fucktons of money on bombing other countries and continuing wars for decades on end. We were too busy making this the greatest country on earth to be a rich person in. We didn't want to make billionaires sad by taxing them too much. We wanted them to get to have their golden toilet seats. We didn't want to inconvenience our beloved Paris Hiltons by expecting them to pay an estate tax on all of the wealth they inherited. We didn't want to make poor people lazy by giving them too much. We wanted the "luxury" of a for-profit health care system, though for reasons I have never quite understood.
It's actually a little reminiscent of another fable, the one about Chicken Little. Lots of people thought people on the Left saying "Hey! We actually need everyone to have healthcare! Not just because we want to be nice, either, but because illnesses are communicable and it is therefore stupid for only people with money to have good health care, as it benefits us all" were being Chicken Littles, saying the sky was going to fall, when the sky was not going to fall and everything was going to be fine, always. As long as everyone just took care of themselves.
We didn't prepare, and now we are fucked. Our institutions aren't four weeks away from being broken, they were already broken to begin with. They are broken because of people like Meghan McCain, who have long argued against doing anything that would have kept them from breaking, and they are broken because of people who thought that if we just didn't try to do anything to fix things, the Meghan McCains of the world would come to like us and then like, thirty years down the road they might let us do a few things here and there to improve things.
So maybe, just maybe, this pandemic will lead Meghan McCain to understand that "rugged individualism" is not really a helpful thing unless you are that dude in the Twilight Zone. Everyone being out for themselves doesn't work in an ecosystem where other people's actions affect us, and vice versa. Because shit is infectious.
SIGH. Thank you all for letting me rant. This is now your open thread, so go do some ranting yourselves!
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse