This is an issue that may seem over-visited by this blog.
But hear me out.
The issue impacts us, our children and our grandchildren. It will impact the next two to six congressional elections, shape the future of your government, impact the nature of you and your families health care and possibly change our discourse and how we communicate as a society forever.
These are not understatements.
It is a once in a life time chance to study communication at its core and on the macro level.
I am open about my views and why, mostly pre-existing conditions, potability of insurance wtihout the high cost of COBRA, skyrocketing cost of the current system (rising at more than three times the level of inflation) and how lower income and ethnic minorities are discriminated against by the current medical system (not discrimination so much as use of actuarial tables that put them at higher risk and therefore those who can least afford it pay the most).
Put that aside and this debate brings the best and worst of rhetoric to the forefront. In other words communication.
Look at the designs, structures, organization of the arguments (or of specific speeches). Find the fallacies in argumentation (and there are plenty as short rhetorical bursts replace long reasoned discourse). Look for the flaws and the truths, then ask why you see these as flaws or truths. Question yourself and others based not on the content, but on the style and applications of communication theory.
Look and you will see the battling use of ethos, pathos, logos and mythos. You can clearly see the codes, noise (screens, filters, interference) of both transmitter and receiver at work. You witnessed talking points and the over simplification of message. You can visit how many people do not understand numbers, abstract concepts or even how the current system actually functions. You will see abundance of semantic noise, both on purpose and by the very nature of the complex issues involved. You could study organisational communication structures, interpersonal interactions, group dynamics, conflicting concepts in journalism, or almost any are of the wide range of the field of communication. Because of how many issues and areas of our lives health care impacts, demographics (including psychographics) comes into play, with education levels and religious beliefs at the forefront.
How many people realize the decision making process, both their own and that of their elected representatives. It's much easier to stereotype, use bias or prejudice, or to over simplify than to look at the complex and very real emotions, thoughts, calculations, priorities and other elements of decision making.
Psychology, sociology, social anthropology, history, political science, journalism, communication, business, economics, and health science are only a few of the many fields of study, interests and career areas through which you can study and seek to understand the issues that too many have boiled down to simple and non-descriptive, or even hateful bullet talking points and special interests inspired posters or t-shirts.
So, in addition to any actions you wish to take as a citizen, why not also step back and look upon this entire debate as an opportunity to review history in the making form a wide range of study areas, or to apply the course you are in or your particular area of expertise in as removed and scientific a manner as possible.
Your responses are appreciated.
As for my students, "there is extra credit in 'dem 'dare hills." See me if you are interested.
First posted 3-19-10