Friday, November 13, 2009

Dems on health care: is there something in the water?

Over the past weekend, there were two monumental votes in the House of Representatives related to health care. One is known as the Stupak amendment (HR884), which provided restrictions on federal funding of abortions, restrictions which are tighter than current U.S. policy. The other is the Health Care Omnibus (HR887), which provided for federal funding of health care. Basically all the Republicans took the knee-jerk conservative positions on both bills. I am fascinated by the variety of opinions found among Democrats on the bill. The overwhelming majority of Dems voted pro-choice and pro-health care. That they would is not that interesting. It is interesting that about 75 broke with party ranks in various ways. Sixteen voted pro-choice but against health care; forty-one voted pro-life but for health care; twenty-three sided with the Republicans (restrict abortion funding but against the bill anyway).

I will call the three positions "Wall Street Libertines" (pro-choice, pro-business), "Rust Belt Catholics" (pro-life, pro-people), and members of the "Bible Belt / Old South".

I find it very interesting that the three groups are geographically segregated. The pro-choice, anti-health people tend to live along shoreline states. The pro-life, pro-health people seem to be clustered around Ohio and those Appalachian states that Hillary Clinton carried in the 2008 Democratic primaries. The pro-life, anti-health people seem to be concentrated in the Slave States during the Civil War. Of course there are exceptions, and my labels might not apply to everyone: I'm sure not all the "Rust Belt Catholics" are in deed Roman Catholics. But why are they segregated?

A friend of mine once claimed that all religionists merely pick up and parrot the religious views of their family and those around them. I ask, how did we get segregated? Is there something in the water? Does the inevitable regionalization of blue collar jobs affect things? Is there something about your blue collar parishioners being coal miners, fishermen, or agricultural hands that makes a pastor preach differently? Do the rich people affect the area: do seaside hotel owners, coal executives, and tobacco kingpins each contribute to vastly different charities & civic groups?


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