by Errington C. Thompson, MD –
Have you ever heard that tune by Sam Cooke?
I was born by the river in a little tent
Oh, and just like the river I’ve been running ev’r since
It’s been a long time, a long time coming
But I know a change is gonna come, oh, yes it will.
I was sitting in a lecture in a very nice hotel in South Florida, given by a famous trauma surgeon. He was presenting his data on traumatic aortic injuries. I’m a trauma surgeon myself, and during my lifetime, the mortality rate for traumatic aortic injuries has gone from almost 50%, treated by the best trauma surgeons in the world, to 15% in this current study. We have gone from rushing patients as quickly as possible to the Operating Room to sometimes not taking them to the OR at all. Some patients qualify for non-operative management, and the vast majority of these patients do fine. The aortic injury heals without surgery. This is remarkable.
Do you know what else is remarkable? Did you feel it? The Blue Wave? This is an inclusive movement that began about 10 years ago. It began as a push-back to the craziness—the overwhelming hatred and bigotry—that characterized the Tea Party.
The Tea Party itself was a push-back to progressivism. In 2010, Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid were rolling. Legislation was being passed. An infrastructure plan was enacted to get us out of the Bush recession. They tweaked the unfair tax code. Blacks, whites, men and women, GLBTQ people (hell, even dogs and cats!) were going to be treated equally under the law.
Then Obama—looking at the polling data—decided that it was his turn to fix healthcare. He was just going to give healthcare a little facelift, small fixes around the edges without tackling the whole system. He was going to take on the unfairness of the system. He did. And he won: ObamaCare became law.
The Tea Party scared Americans with lies about “death panels” and confusing, often dishonest, coverage. Americans went nuts, and elected a “red wave” in 2010—but they also gradually started to buy health insurance on the exchanges. They started appreciating the subsidies, and not being denied coverage for pre-existing conditions, and the elimination of annual and lifetime caps on coverage, and being able to keep their children on their family plans until age 26. Even Tea Party members discovered, to their shock, that they liked this government-sponsored, free-market, subsidized health insurance program that allowed them to survive major illnesses, and get their health back without going bankrupt!
Slowly the progressive movement built and pushed the Tea Party back. And this past November, there was a big Blue Wave in which more seats flipped from Republican to Democrats, in the House of Representatives, than has happened in over 40 years—since the Watergate scandal, in 1974. This movement was led by women. Tons of women were elected from all over this country. It was a beautiful thing to watch.
There have been times that I thought I couldn’t last for long
But now I think I’m able to carry on
It’s been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change is gonna come, oh yes it will
Lies verses the Truth
It is kind of interesting and scary that people are willing to believe lies. I feel like Yoda, from Star Wars, explaining the seduction of the Dark Side of the Force. “It is quicker, easier.”
That is what we are seeing with these lies. Remember when Trump was telling us that the hacking of the DNC’s computers could have been the Russians—or it could have been some 400-pound kid living in his mom’s basement. He just didn’t know. Remember that?
He tore up NAFTA because it was a bad, awful agreement. Right? Trump has replaced it with something that is almost exactly the same. There are some minor differences which may help the auto industry, which is good. Of course, this could have been done as an amendment to NAFTA, but that wouldn’t have fit his narrative. Instead he needed us to have chaos and doubt and uncertainty: the “great deal-maker” had to declare everyone else’s previous deals “disasters,” and then promote his own replacement as “the best in history.”
Trump says he’s unsure if Washington Post journalist Jamal Kashoggi was killed by the Saudi royal family. The CIA is sure. The NSA is sure. Even the Turkish government is sure. But not Trump; he likes the Saudis, and profits from them when they buy condos in his luxury towers. And even if they did do it, he says, they’re too lucrative for him to care if they murdered someone who was, after all, in the media—“the enemy of the people.”
Let’s promise each other as progressives that we are going to work hard to push back against lies and shine the light of truth everywhere throughout the United States.
Election fraud, not voter fraud
Let’s go forward together. I want to fix voting in America once and for all. I want one person, one vote. If you are an American citizen, you should be able to vote. Period. Voting should be easy as ordering something from Amazon. No one should have to wait in line at a polling place for more than 30 minutes. Voting should not occur on a Tuesday when most people are working, It should take place over two weeks, not just one day—or at the very least on a Saturday, when most of us are off. This should be written in stone, or at least federal law.
There must be standards, national standards, of how to conduct an election and how to perform a recount. And before that, how to redistrict the states to ensure that legislators elected BY the people become our government OF the people. It’s ridiculous that in North Carolina, Democratic candidates won 1,748,173 votes and Republicans got only 1,545,790 votes across 12 contested House districts (incumbent Walter Jones ran unopposed in the 5th District), yet their 47% of the vote got Republicans 75% of the state’s congressional seats.
To say nothing of the fact that NC’s 9th District House race is being investigated for major electoral fraud, possibly leading to a new election.
The fact that we were all holding our breaths as the Florida governor was talking about sending state troopers to Boward County to make them stop counting ballots was nuts. When the Georgia Secretary of State is allowed to kick tens of thousands of people—almost all Democrats, almost all African Americans or Hispanics—off the voter rolls while running for governor in an election that he is overseeing, that is simply wrong.
Some 231 years ago, Ben Franklin said that we have not a monarchy but “a Republic, if you can keep it.” To keep it, we need to work together and fix voting, forever.
Happy Holidays to you and yours. Merry Christmas!