I'm Done Begging The GOP To See Me as a Person.
Jokey is my default setting. I very much subscribe to Sara Benincasa’s notion that if you can laugh at the worst moments in your life, you can transcend them. Even when the going has gotten really tough, I’ve maintained a certain level of sarcastic detachment about it all.
There have been a few occasions in life where putting on the humor mask hasn’t worked for me. One of those times was on election night. Another one of those times was this afternoon.
I have a lot of problems with the current political administration. I abhor their treatment of immigrants, I am frightened by their attitudes towards women, I fundamentally reject their loose grasp of science. There’s one issue, though, that gets really personal for me, even more than all of the rest. That issue is healthcare.
I’ve been especially angry lately because sick people like myself have a lot to worry about from day to day. We have short-term worries, like whether or not our blood work will come back okay or how we’re going to pay for groceries and this month’s prescriptions. We have long-term worries, like whether or not our disease will take away our ability to have kids, or whether the meds we’re on for one condition might end up causing another.
But for the 217 members of the House GOP who voted today to strip millions of people of their access to affordable healthcare, those worries are not enough. They want you to worry that you’ll lose your house paying for your sick kid’s procedures. They want you to worry that you’ll die because you can’t afford your medication. I don’t find it one bit dramatic to say that if this legislation passes through the Senate, people will die. A lot of people will die. They want you to know that because you got sick, even if it was entirely random and out of your control, that you don’t deserve your life. And they want all of this because it will get them tax breaks and a pat on the back from a president who barely knows basic geography.
Making pre-existing conditions uninsurable is turning non-lethal diagnoses into death sentences. It’s keeping diabetics from affording insulin, asthmatics from paying for their inhalers, and autoimmune patients out of reach of life-saving biologics. It’s telling me, a fairly accomplished young woman who happens to have a disease, that my life matters less than tax cuts. It’s telling a 5-year-old with cancer that even when they beat the tumors, they’ll spend the rest of their lives battling to keep a roof over their heads because they hit their lifetime benefits cap before they were old enough to drive.
But as angry as all of this makes me, I think today, an overwhelming feeling of despair took the place of anger. I truly believed in the last few days that this wouldn’t happen, because at least a few of those 217 people who voted yes would realize that they were harming real people. But then they didn’t, and I sat at my desk watching a live stream of politicians cheering as they sent millions of families to bankruptcy and patients to their death beds.
I’ve never felt more dehumanized than I have by this administration. They’ve made it perfectly clear, from their votes to their celebratory, “we just ruined the life of sick kids!” beers, that people with illnesses and disabilities are not worthy of life. They’ve made me beg to be seen as a whole person, and even then, they told me “we disagree, you are not.” They’ve gone on TV spouting narratives that sick people are lazy, that we’ve done this to ourselves by not taking better care of our bodies, that paying to keep your fellow humans alive “isn’t their problem.” And no matter how many good people you know exist in the world, I don’t have a humor mask to hide the way it feels to be told by your country that you are sick, and you are therefore not worthy of the basic right to life.
Tomorrow I’m going to try to re-channel the anger, because that’s what we need right now –– anger that fuels action. I’ll send every Republican who voted “yes” a picture of my diseased intestines. I’ll knock on doors, and write strongly worded letters, and donate to 2018 campaigns. Because angry me really wants them to know that if they’re coming for my health, I’ll spend every last drop of energy I have coming for their jobs.