Exploring Human Potential

First, Extirpate Trump. Then Begin the Nation Anew With Health.

Posted on | December 20, 2022 | 5 Comments

Mike Magee

“The Right to Health Care and the U.S. Constitution.” On the surface, it sounds like a straight forward topic – a simple presentation. But a gentle scratch at the surface reveals a controversy that literally dates back 250 years and more. Is it a “right”, a “privilege”, or simply a “necessity?”

I’m not a lawyer or Constitutional scholar. But I do know health care, its’ history, and its’ many strengths and weaknesses. What does our Constitution have to do with health care?  The answer: That depends on how broadly you define “health.”

Before we were ever a nation, there existed a 300 year period of war and conquest, of genocide and superstition masquerading as science, of promises made and promises broken in the Americas. The naive fledgling nation that declared its independence in 1776, knew that what they were attempting was a long shot. As Alexander Hamilton wrote in the first Federalist paper, the pressing question was “… whether societies of men are really capable or not, of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend, for their political constitutions, on accident and force.” It was, and is, an open question.

One hundred and seventy years after our Declaration of Independence, General George Marshall raised the same question when charged with rebuilding the destroyed societies of vanquished enemies, Germany and Japan, from ashes. Where should he begin? In 1946, he decided to begin by establishing national health plans in each of those nations. He believed that by creating services that emphasized safety and security; handing out compassion, understanding and partnership in liberal amounts; reinforcing bonds between individuals, families and their communities; and processing a populations collective fears and worries day in and day out; the occupying forces might be able to establish a level of trust and tranquility necessary to secure the foundations of a thriving and lasting democracy. It was, if you will, a “nation building” plan, The Marshall Plan. And it worked.

General George Washington’s moment in history  when assigned to lead the Continental Army on June 15, 1775 was quite different. He had no such insights. He had his hands full assuring our immediate survival. Governance and representation, rights and privileges, checks and balances – these were issues decidedly on the table for him and the other Founding Fathers in 1776. Health of the population was not. Nowhere in those early years will you find an essay titled “How do we make America healthy?”

Arguably, the aristocratic leaders of this fledgling nation (the 6% allowed to vote) spent much of their time doing just the opposite – figuring out how to subjugate women and harm a large portion of their fellow humankind, most notably indigenous natives and enslaved Africans. Had there been a broad goal of creating an equitable healthy population from the beginning, our Founding Fathers would have been forced into a “Truth and Reconciliation” process of our own – an impossibility most historians believe if the goal was uniting these 13 distinctly separate colonies.

We went with the “United States” as it was, as it still is. Trump and his Republican  admirers are simply residual damage, evidence of the persistence of unhealthy and discriminatory behaviors, and proof positive that “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” is quite impossible without good health. 

Health is foundational to a functioning democracy. Health is recognized by most throughout the world as a fundamental right, intertwined with our economic, social, and political systems. But health must be shared and be broadly accessible to be an effective enabler of good government.

Our Constitution is aspirational and idealistic – a “living document.”  We have the opportunity to actively pursue a healthy America. It is within our grasp to improve on the Founders vision and demonstrate to Hamilton, in modern times, that we are “capable of establishing good government from reflection and choice.” 

The choice of Health Care for All is a basic and foundational component for a thriving democracy. Understanding the Constitution and our nearly 250 years of relevant case law has been an eye opener for me. I thought I really understood the history of health care in America. But viewing it through a legal lens (even before the Dobbs case) has only reinforced my belief that we together, as Americans, deserve better. We have a right to share a healthy culture, live lives of promise and productivity and personal autonomy, and secure a bright future in this country we love. 

Ignoring health has brought American culture to its knees, allowing weak values, fear, and ignorance to make Trump possible. We shouldn’t require any more proof than this. Surgical extirpation of this malignancy is underway. But that will only bring us back to neutral.

How will we finally make our American culture healthy? General George Marshall would say, “Begin with health. It is a necessity.”


5 Responses to “First, Extirpate Trump. Then Begin the Nation Anew With Health.”

  1. Keith Kittinger
    December 21st, 2022 @ 8:22 am

    How can the richest country in the world not take care of its own?

  2. Mike Magee
    December 21st, 2022 @ 8:41 am

    As you know so well, Keith, service is its own reward. But for a nation like our’s, a fundamental question needs to cued up and considered by a representative deliberative body – “How do we make America healthy?” Until we face that question, we will continue to fall short as a nation in compassion, understanding and partnership. Best, Mike

  3. Alex
    December 22nd, 2022 @ 2:38 pm

    Very knowledgeable blog, thanks for sharing.

  4. Laura Hudgins
    December 23rd, 2022 @ 5:16 pm

    Thank You for your perspective. The religious repressive right is dragging the nation down. With Universal access to health care, and especially to easy to access contraception, we could have a healthier work force. Public health insurance if you will, is a very effective way to get all of our citizens to access preentive health care, and improve the health literacy. We also need to change tax laws, to favor the working class. -Laura, MA,RN

  5. Mike Magee
    December 24th, 2022 @ 10:44 am

    Thanks, Laura, for reminding us that there are concrete steps our leadership could take to steer us toward a healthy America. Happy Holidays! Mike

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