On Monday, 76 people were arrested after they occupied the Capitol rotunda. Isn’t that amazing news? Demonstrators, including actor Noah Wyle, from Americans with Disabilities for Attendant Programs Today (ADAPT) filled the rotunda to protest proposed cuts to Medicaid services. It’s easy to be cynical about today’s politics, but demonstrations like this show that Americans are willing to fight for their rights.
Most disabled Americans require expensive care that the average person cannot afford. Insurance coverage is usually unavailable, and the bureaucracy of the insurance industry often prevents treatments from being administered in a consistent fashion. Some Americans may cringe at the idea of government-funded healthcare, but that’s exactly what the government has been providing to the nation’s Medicaid patients. So, it’s worked pretty well.
However, Republicans in the House of Representatives are trying to cut certain Medicaid services, in order to trim perceived fat from the federal budget. ADAPT’s stated goal was to convince House Budget Committee chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) to require that states fund alternatives to nursing homes and institutions, the default for state-managed care in many areas.
Conservatives, especially “Tea Partiers,” fear government intervention in their lives. That is exactly what the people represented by these 76 protestors face, all at the hands of the GOP. Having to fight to live independently, instead of being forced to live in an institution, is a real crisis of freedom. Don’t people have the right to live in their own homes, instead of being forced by circumstance to have their lives run by others.
Does the happiness and freedom of a small minority outweigh the crushing national debt? That point will surely be debated on talk shows and from pulpits, but the point is that these people took action. They didn’t hold a rally and congregate with like-minded people, and they didn’t tell the President to suck on a machine gun. Instead, they went right into the proverbial belly of the beast and forced the politicians to listen.
The protestors were arrested, but that’s part of the game. This was an important matter and they were willing to make sacrifices for the cause. Monday’s protest may not achieve what it needs to, but the people involved tried their best. It was civil disobedience at its finest. We could all learn something from this.