14 August 2009

Seems like the hoopla about an White House Enemies List hasn’t been getting as much attention lately, though I have no doubt that it’s simmering under the surface of right wing nuttery.  Having learned about a real Enemies List during the Watergate years, and been raised by the generation that lived through the McCarthy hearings, the specter of an enemies list gathered around the health reform issue just seems bizarre to me.

What did the White House actually request?  Tell us what alarming things you’ve heard, forward them to us, and let us address the concerns you have.  Pretty innocuous.

Or so I thought.

So, according to The Paranoid Ones, the evil secret Muslin Kenyan dictator sitting in the Oval Office must be using this for Nefarious Data Collection!  It’s a ruse!  They just want our E-Mails!

Which seems really silly to me.  If the national security agencies capable of protecting this country haven’t figured out how to collect data on pretty much anyone they wish by now, they’re not doing their jobs right.  It’s not that I am in favor of being spied on by the government, or by anyone else, for that matter.  But certainly, with all the expertise these security agencies have cultivated over the decades, they’ve come up with more efficient ways to gather data than inviting us to send emails to the White House.

Still, I’d bet on it if I was a gamblin’ woman:  the Enemies List will resurface, in a few days or a few weeks.  Paranoid fears about the evil President require that he be keeping a List, like a fascist Santa.  That’s how the plot works:  the evil tyrant has to have an Enemies List.  And if you’re McCarthy or Nixon, yes there might be something scary going on.  But Health Care? it’s such a … milk-toast issue.  It’s so incredible somber and nit-picky of an issue.  It’s not like Communism, or trying to get the goods on the people who are trying to Take You Down.  It’s all about disease and finances and what an insurance company can get away with.

The issue of this Enemies List is just another in a ever regenerating line of fake controversies – like the Death Panels, the Birther issue, the Socialist Takeover, you name it .  The extreme (and some not so apparently extreme) folks who are looking for anything to cling to that will tell them that Progressive Change, black president or no, equals The End of America as We Know It.

Let me tell you something I believe about the American Experiment.  It is meant to change.  It is meant to evolve.  A stable society, such as the Founders hoped to establish, is not the same thing as a static society.  The Constitution was meant to distill down to core principles the form and purpose of our government, but I don’t believe it was ever meant to relate only to some frozen form of late 18th century American life.  No, the Constitution was meant to set up a representative government which could respond to the changes and demands of the citizenry itself.

The citizens have demanded many things about health care and health reform (and they are not the same thing) but one thing we have not demanded is that our Government – White House and Congress – ignore our questions.  So maybe it’s a little silly to the criticize the White House for wanting to gather those questions, particularly around disturbing claims of socialized medicine and Death Panels, in the most convenient form of communication of our time, Email.