Todd Rokita’s Ignorance of History and Reality Is Offensive and Makes Him a Prime Example of Why the Tea Party Is So Detested by So Many
I understand that rhetoric can sometimes go a bit too far and be taken over the proverbial top. But sometimes going over the top is … well, going too far. And while our elected officials certainly have the right to say what they want, sometimes their position as elected officials should require them to, oh, I don’t know … think before they open their mouths and start spouting gibberish. This is especially true when the gibberish coming out of their mouths is both inane and horribly offensive.
Case in point: Indiana’s former Secretary of State and current member of Congress Todd Rokita (R-Indiana).
I understand that Rep. Rokita opposes the Affordable Care Act. I get that. He’s entitled to oppose it (though I’d really like to hear real reasons for his opposition beyond bare talking points, but that’s a discussion for another day). And Rep. Rokita is certainly entitled to his opinion that the Affordable Care Act should be repealed or defunded or whatever. He’s even entitled to think that it is a bad law or a law that will be bad for Americans or for America. He’s wrong, but he’s entitled to those opinions. And if he just said, “Obamacare is bad” or “Obamacare will hurt Americans”, I might criticize his opinion, but that would likely be the end of it.
But that’s not what Rep. Rokita said.
Nope. He took that proverbial step too far in his criticism.
In an interview that aired late Monday night on CNN, Rep. Rokita called the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare):
[T]he most insidious law known to man.
Seriously. Those were Rep. Rokita’s words. “The most insidious law known to man.” Here’s the video (at about 1:00; it’s actually the second time he calls Obamacare “insidious”).
(I could respond to many of the points that Rep. Rokita makes in the remainder of the interview, but that isn’t the point of this post.)
First, let’s recall what the Affordable Care Act does. It prevents the denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions. Insidious. It prevents lifetime caps on benefits. Insidious. It prohibits insurance companies from canceling policies when people get sick. Insidious. It requires insurance companies use premiums to care for the insured, rather than expanding corporate profits unreasonably. Insidious. It allows children to remain on their parent’s policy until they are 26. Insidious. It levels the playing field for premiums between men and women. Insidious. It provides that certain preventative care (like mammograms) be covered by policies. Insidious. It provides subsidies to allow those who otherwise might not be able to afford insurance to buy insurance rather than relying upon (and not paying for) care in the emergency rooms. Insidious. It expands Medicaid so that more of those living in poverty can obtain healthcare. Insidious. And it requires that people have health insurance (either through an employer or obtained individually or through an exchange).
“The most insidious law known to man.”
Perhaps if Rep. Rokita weren’t such a moron, he’d know about laws like the Fugitive Slave Act which provided for the return of runaway slaves to their “masters”. Or maybe he would be familiar with the Nuremberg Laws that revoked citizenship to Germany’s Jewish population and imposed other prohibitions upon the country’s Jews. One wonders if Rep. Rokita is familiar with Jim Crow laws that imposed segregation between blacks and whites and restricted the voting rights of black Americans. Come to think of it, Rep. Rokita should certainly be familiar with that last category of laws given his active involvement in the passage and enforcement of the newest version of a Jim Crow law, in the form of voter ID laws (a law for which Rokita either perjured himself while Secretary of State or about which he lied to Congress). I could probably go on with a list of laws that were, in fact, evil…
But it’s the Affordable Care Act that Rep. Rokita claims is “the most insidious law known to man”.
Which do you think is more insidious: A law that helps people get healthcare or a law that calls a certain group of people non-citizens and subhuman?
Which do you think is more insidious: A law that prevents insurance companies from denying coverage to sick people or a law that requires that runaway slaves be returned to their “masters”?
Which do you think is more insidious: A law that prevents insurance companies from charging higher premiums to women simply because of their ability to get pregnant or a law that prevented black Americans from voting?
Which do you think is more insidious: A law that expands healthcare availability or a law that cuts food stamp subsidies to the poor?
Perhaps Rep. Rokita simply doesn’t know what “insidious” means? Or, more likely, he is simply too busy trying to cause fear and angst among his Tea Party constituents to really care that he is offending millions with his crass claim.
I called Rep. Rokita’s office this morning to see if an apology for this statement would be forthcoming. So far, no apology has been issued.
A statement that far over-the-top, that offensive to those adversely affected by truly insidious laws, cannot stand. And a Congressman who is so ignorant of history, so willing to go beyond the bounds of reasonable dialogue and debate, is not fit to serve in an elected capacity.
Rhetoric like that of Rep. Rokita is wrong. It’s dangerous. In fact, it’s downright insidious. But it’s not the most insidious statement known to man.
Update (October 2, 2013): An anonymous commenter correctly points out that Rep. Rokita actually refers to Obamacare not just as “the most insidious law” but as “one of the most insidious laws”. In listening to the video again, that is correct. I took the quotation that I used from the CNN article linked to above. That said, I’m not sure that the quote is any better. So Obamacare isn’t more insidious than the Fugitive Slave Act, Nuremberg Laws, or Jim Crow laws; it’s just on par with them.