A friend of mine at church last night was telling me a story about her son. They had gone over to Grandmas house for a visit, and he decided that he was going to play with one of Grandma's artificial flower arrangements. This, despite the fact that Mama and Gradma had made it clear that those flowers were off limits. We have a saying in our house that codifies these myriad types of rules - "Is it yours? No? Then don't mess with it!"
That day, when he first touched the flowers, Mama corrected him and made it clear that yes, the flowers were still off-limits. No touching! This young man wasn't one to take "No!" for an answer, though. He persisted in his attempts to play with the flowers again.. and again… and again.
After a few more attempts, and repeated corrections and admonitions, he was an absolute wreck - crying, sobbing, and shaking.
Not in remorse. In rage.
Twenty-three times, my friend told me. She kept count. Twenty-three times he tried to do what he was told not to do; twenty-three times he went for those stupid flowers. By the end of it all, he wasn't even trying to play with them any longer. Mama would correct him, tell him no… and he would gather himself, look at her, and then reach out a hand to give the flowers the lightest little touch.
What had started out being about the flowers had devolved into a battle of wills. Come hell or high water, that little boy was going to assert his will in the situation. It was no longer about playing with the flowers, it was all about him looking his mother in the eye and letting her know that what she wanted didn't matter. He was going to do this.
Which brings us to health care reform.
Now, I'm not implying that our representatives in the house and Senate are like disobedient, petulant, whiny little children. As the saying goes, that would be an insult to whiny little kids.
What I do see, however, is the same sort of battle of wills that my friend faced with her son. The House and Senate are desperately trying to find a way - some way, any way - to pass the health care legislation that they crafted late last year. The matter has progressed so far, in fact, that it is no longer about health care at all. Our representatives are unwilling to back off, to reflect, to revisit, to do anything except push the existing legislation forward.
Democrats have already started resigning over the issue. Oh, they may say it's for another reason, and claim that correlation is not causation - but there are an awful lot of career politicians who have decided not to even try and run for re-election next year. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has made it clear that she's willing to pay any price, including sacrificing her party's majority in the House and Senate, in order to see this bill passed.
The "health care debate" is no longer a debate, and it has been a long time since it was about health care. It has devolved into a battle of wills; and for that reason alone, if no other, the current health care bill needs to die. The House and Senate are our elected representatives. They are our civil servants in the political system, whether or not they like it, and whether or not they agree, they are there to shape our federal government accruing to our wills, not theirs.
The American people have made it abundantly clear that the current health care reform bills are off limits. Yet, once again, our members of Congress are gathering themselves, and preparing to push forward legislation that their constituents clearly do not want. Once again, once again, Congress is preparing to look the people they claim to represent in the eye, and tell them "Not your will, but mine."
Once more, they have made it abundantly clear that this is no longer about health care reform, but is instead a battle of wills… and this is a battle of wills that we, the people, dare not loose.