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Sounding Off:

Health care is too important for partisan bickering

October 13, 2009|By Suzanne Savary

It was precisely in response to the kind of hostile, ad hominem attack on columnist Joseph N. Bell from writer Terry Johnston (“Double standard on Democratic voice,” Mailbag, Wednesday) that several Newport Beach residents decided to form the Newport Beach Women’s Democratic Club during the recent presidential campaign.

As our membership swelled from five to more than 70 members, we heard many stories of a lack of civility and respect whenever a progressive point of view was mentioned in this community. As a result, our group, which has also drawn independents and moderate Republicans, has committed to a mission of creating a respectful and civil dialogue about progressive and Democratic ideals in Newport Beach.

This is why we participated in the Aug. 31 march around Rep. John Campbell’s office requesting that he hold a town hall on health care insurance reform so that citizens of Newport Beach can share their concerns and views on the topic. We continue to press the congressman to hold that meeting and encourage other citizens to do the same. At the end of the march, the Newport Beach police complimented us on “the most mature political march ever held in Newport Beach.” It had to be — we had families, the elderly, children and handicapped among us with heartbreaking stories of denied access and medical bankruptcy.

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This is why we applaud Bell for his insightful column in which he describes surfing both protesters and counter-protesters to conclude that the big difference between us is our view on the role of government in health care. Yes, we progressives see the protection of access to affordable health care to be a role of government, just as the protection of the police, fire department, provision of safe roads, a postal service, emergency services, public schools and universities are something we expect our tax dollars to provide. The provision of the baseline level does not prohibit private enterprise, just as the funding of a community college does not prohibit private universities. That is a specious argument.

Our club members have spent our lives in close relationships with Republicans and have always known that moderates on both sides agree on 90% of what occurs in American life. We were brought up to believe that the other person is just as much a patriot as we are and deserves a respectful hearing on topics of disagreement. It is time for leaders in both parties to insist on a return to the respectful civil dialogue in which we must engage if we are to build the best America for all of us, rather than just score partisan points.


SUZANNE SAVARY is the president of the Newport Beach Women’s Democratic Club.

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