A Doctor’s Tale

blue and red conversationDemocrat. Republican. Conservative. Liberal. Independent. Libertarian. Green. Progressive. Pro-choice. Pro-life. Vegan. Gluten-free. Never-Trump.

We want to label ourselves as SOMETHING. It’s convenient when engaging in conversations or identifying others who think like we do so that we can make friends or collaborate on a project. Categorizing ourselves is a human instinct.

In this modern age where communities are breaking down— where many spend more time socializing over screens than out in the street talking to neighbors— these labels lead us into the dangers of misunderstanding, and the dehumanizing of the other, which has contributed to this mess of uncivilized yelling and partisanship and the divide in this country.

Let’s stop the labels, and talk about the issues, starting with FACTS, not beliefs.

For instance, I have always believed that healthcare is a right, not a privilege. Many who label themselves as “progressives” agree with me. As a physician, I see that the only way forward is to have some kind of single payer system, because medically necessary health care is simply NOT a market-appropriate commodity.

Many who identify as “conservatives” will never see healthcare as a right. It makes no sense to argue this point ad nauseum. Some voters will be swayed by data. Citing facts about single-payer systems in other countries or fiscal data on how preventative care investment saves money for our society will be far more effective in convincing others that such a system can be positive for all of us. (Visit http://www.pnhp.org/facts/what-is-single-payer and http://www.pnhp.org/facts/quality.pdf)

So listen up, Progressives and Democrats. You’re being tuned out by the middle of this country and those in “red” areas of every state. We’ve all heard it: “the Progressive agenda is [fill in the blank.]” React—every time you can— with facts. Data. It will take more time and research on your part, and the DNC should compile a list of nonpartisan resources where these facts can be obtained (Did you know that Kaiser Family Foundation has a fantastic website comparing the ACA and other healthcare reforms?) .

No matter what we do, many folks will keep base decisions on gut feelings or what they had for breakfast, but we’ll probably do better in winning the hearts of undecided or lost voters — and unifying Americans to work for the greater good — when we’re discussing facts.

~ Adele Close, M.D.