Saturday, November 6, 2010

Center Right Reform

I was speaking to Tim Norbeck, executive director of the non-profit Physicians Foundation. I asked him how he would summarize the election results. He answered.”Center Right.”

That is as succinct a summary as you’re going to get. The American people are basically cautious and conservative and have remained so since 1776. President Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, believed in the will of the people rather than centralized government power and hubris. That was the essence of Jeffersonian Democracy, which was at work in the latest election.

Americans believe in limited government, freedom of personal behavior and choice, equal opportunity but not equal results. They resist sweeping and radical changes in the country’s direction that lead off the main road.

The Center Right supports democratic capitalism, the market economy, limited government regulation, private property rights, and opposition to socialism. Such definitions generally include political parties that base their ideology and policies upon conservatism and economic liberalism.

The Center Right distrusts extremes, whether on the left or right. On health reform, the Center Right prefers the middle road, somewhere between government protecting the uninsured and the free market providing care for the rest.

I thought Charles Krauthammer, MD, provided the best one-paragraph summary of what happened on November 2 in a column called “A Return to Normal” in the Washington Post,

“For all the turmoil, the spectacle, the churning - for all the old bulls slain and fuzzy-cheeked freshmen born - the great Republican wave of 2010 is simply a return to the norm. The tide had gone out; the tide came back. A center-right country restores the normal congressional map: a sea of interior red, bordered by blue coasts and dotted by blue islands of ethnic/urban density.”

Peggy Noonan, the former Reagan Speechwriter, also showed insight in a November 5 column, “Americans Vote for Maturity."

Noonan questioned the judgment of the Tea Party, which backed candidates “who seemed strange, or unprofessional, or not fully qualified, or like empty blanks skittering along the street.”

This was an election for grown-ups, for sensible Americans just to the right of the middle of the road, but not on the shoulders.

Let us hope that this commonsensical attitude extends to health reform, as we seek to retain the best of the health reform law and modify, or purge its worst features.

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