Thursday, November 22, 2007

Does the Religious Right Root for our Government to Fail?

Sandy Rios frequently rants about liberals who root for the United States military to fail in Iraq, although I don't think recognizing failure is the same thing as rooting for it, nor do I think that continually redefining success lower and lower is the same thing as succeeding. On the other hand, it seems to me that Rios and many evangelical Christians root for the American government to fail at everything else it does in order to preserve their claims that their brand of religion is the only hope for America.

This comes to mind because I finally saw Michael Moore's Sicko last week. I don't recall Jesus ever saying anything about socialized medicine but it seems to be a basic tenet of evangelical Christians that universal health care would be a terrible tragedy. In the last two weeks, I have heard Rios, Pat Robertson, and James Scudder all tell their listeners that the last thing we want is what the rest of the civilized world has. Now I will acknowledge that I am skeptical about Sicko's portrayal of Cuba's healthcare system, but I suspect that the French, Canadians, and British really do prefer what they have.

One of the most striking things in Sicko was the way that different countries create incentives for doctors. In Britain, a doctor can be financially rewarded when his patients quit smoking or lower their blood pressure. In the United States, doctors working for insurance companies are financially rewarded for denying patients treatments that could save their lives. Is it any wonder that America spends more per capita on healthcare with poorer results than countries with socialized medicine?

Apologist N.T. Wright was recently quoted at the American Academy of Religion Conference as saying that "[t]he Church must get on with the works of justice, beauty, and healing that the systems [of the world] know they should do, but can't figure out how to do." Could it be that some of the systems of the world have figured out how to do some of these works? Could it be that evangelical Christians deny these successes rather than allow that good can be accomplished without them? Could it be that the Religous Right delights in the failures of the Bush administration because it confirms their belief in that good belongs exclusively to the(ir) Church?


  1. First problem: redefining success downward. Not happening. The definition of success has always been the ability of the Iraqi government and its army to take care of business without our help. It still is the definition of success. It is the Bush-bashers who have merely insinuated the goal posts changing, as well as their insertion of their own poorly contructed definitions.

    Next, Christianity IS the best hope for America.

    Regardless of the previous statement, all the countries you listed suffer from the same problems highlighted by people like Mark Steyn, who has experience dealing with such health care policies. To say that the right disapproves of socialized health care, doesn't mean that we're cool with the state of health care in this country now.

    Now, those countries mentioned may indeed feel that they like what they have, but it's because they have the sense that it's now free. Of course it isn't, and they sweat when they are in dire need but the system forces delays in care.

  2. Regarding redefining success, you might be interested in Douglas Feith's piece in the Wall Street Journal on May 27, 2008 title How Bush Sold the War:

    "But the most damaging effect of this communications strategy was that it changed the definition of success. Before the war, administration officials said that success would mean an Iraq that no longer threatened important U.S. interests – that did not support terrorism, aspire to WMD, threaten its neighbors, or conduct mass murder. But from the fall of 2003 on, the president defined success as stable democracy in Iraq."