Sunday, November 2, 2008

A few thoughts coming down to the wire

There are less than two days before the voting starts and the nation gets to the end of the long, long road of electioneering. It's not only the most expensive political campaign, but the most mind-numbing.

Many of us, me included, are saying: Enough already. Let's vote and go onto the next thing: healing the nation.

But even as I say that, there are a couple of things with which I want to leave you about the process that we (one hopes most of us, anyway) are about to complete.

First of all, let's talk about the question of the constitutional convention. Polls say half of us here in Connecticut will vote for it. That's a shame. It's a bad idea being promulgated by a group using fear as a beard.

The television ads, which thankfully must carry the signature of their sponsor, the state Catholic Conference, say the convention will give voters a say in their government.

Nothing is further from the truth. 

What they want is to hold the conference, pack it with their supporters, and reverse the courts and legislature on abortion and gay marriage in Connecticut. Two branches of government, the legislative (the General Assembly, the state's legislature) and the judicial (the Supreme Court, the state's highest court of appeals) have backed gay marriage.

The Church wants to sidestep this democratic process, as well as the established process of judicial review, and replace it with church dogma. 

As far as being able to petition, another target of any church-sponsored constitutional convention, it's another end run around the democratic process. A law gets passed the church doesn't like, it gets its folks to petition. The legislators refuse to pass a law the church wants enacted, such as taking us back to the days when Connecticut was the only state in the nation to criminalize birth control, they cough up a petition.

What that does is brings the state's legislative process, hardly a model of efficiency in any regard, to a screeching halt. 

On the state level, we in Connecticut live in a republic. We elect legislators who pass laws and who advise and consent on hiring the state judiciary. We either trust them or we don't, and if we don't, we should elect people we do trust. Our job as an informed citizenry is to elect people to the General Assembly whom we trust to do those things we want done. 

If we want to change the Connecticut Constitution, we can call a convention at any time, or we can amend the document. A constitutional convention throws open the whole document to no-holds-barred changes. We don't need that. If we want to amend the constitution, then do so.

Then our job is to advise these legislators of our wishes. We can call them, write them, e-mail them, show up singly or in numbers to advise them of our wishes. We don't need an additional level of governmental interference.

We don't need a constitutional convention run by the Catholic church. 

One more point, if you will, on insurance.

John McCain wants to institute a health insurance plan that would, in essence, take health insurance out of the workplace. 

He wants to give you up to $5,000 to help pay for private insurance you would purchase from an insurance company. Even if his plan would save you money over the current system (it won't, but let's give him that point), his plan removes an important plus to getting insurance at work.

You alone would pay few thousand dollars premium to an insurance company and have the clout that one small insured has with the carrier: very little. Your employer, if it is a major corporation or even a medium sized corporation, pays millions and millions of dollars in premiums and has the clout that a large customer has with the carrier: a lot.

If you have a problem as a single insured, you might get someone to address your problem. If your company, a major client, addresses your problem with the insurance company, the chance that your complaint will be addressed is exponentially higher. 

Under McCain's plan, you lose that clout. That's really, really important. And it works. I know because I ran into a problem a few years ago. A health provider decided that the amount she was getting from my insurance company wasn't enough to pay for the service she was rendering. She wanted more and billed me. 

I called her and she basically said too bad. I brought the problem to my company's human resources office, which called the corporate HR office, which called the insurance company. The company called the provider and read her the riot act. The problem disappeared. 

You lose that with McCain's plan.

In any case, get out Tuesday and vote. It couldn't be more important.

Until next time...

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