Compassionless Conservatives

Whether it be explaining the new health care law to immigrants in their native language or feeding hungry children, Republicans aren't interested.

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DENVER – On Tuesday, Fox News host Dana Perino, once President George W. Bush's press secretary, Tweeted about the Affordable Care Act offering assistance in multiple languages, "I can understand a few major languages. But 150? Give me a break. Some of you are nuts."

I can understand a few major languages. But 150? Give me a break. Some of you are nuts.

— Dana Perino (@DanaPerino) October 2, 2013

Um, no Dana, we're not nuts, you're completely ignorant of how health care works for people who don't look like you.

One of my friends is an OB-GYN for a health care provider in Aurora, Colo., which has a large immigrant population – African, Latino, Middle Eastern, you name it. The provider offers a universal translation service for hundreds of languages, since so many immigrants don't speak English adequate for medical conversations. There was once an awkward moment where a patient from Kyrgyzstan was being given a translation in Turkish.

[See a collection of political cartoons on Obamacare.]

What my friend the doctor does is help women who don't speak English have healthy babies. Dana's problem with that would be what?

But this is pretty typical of tea party Republican base right now: If it's not about me and my socio-economic bracket, I don't care and it's not worth doing.

It's why House Republicans cut food stamps for poor kids. It's why Republican governors in red states are denying health care to the working poor by turning down the Medicaid expansion. It's why Ted Cruz and the toxic tea party caucus is  willing to shut down the government and the Women, Infants, and Children food nutrition service that supplies formula and food to new mothers who can't afford it.

It's also why Colorado Republicans voted against Hurricane Sandy aid then turned around and demanded federal help for the Colorado flood disaster. And no, "there's not enough in it for me" isn't a sufficient reason to vote against a bill helping your fellow Americans.

[See a collection of political cartoons on the Republican Party.]

As Economist John Kenneth Galbraith put it, "The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."

When someone, especially a child, is hungry, you feed them, no questions asked. When a tornado strikes Oklahoma, or a hurricane hits New Jersey, or an explosion rocks West, Texas, you send blankets and clean water and small business loans to help them get back on their feet. When people working three jobs need health insurance you help them get it.

And when immigrant families trying to put down roots in their new country want to have healthy babies and make informed health care choices, you talk to them in whatever language they need.

That is who we are as a nation.

(In the interest of full disclosure, and because I believe in it, I should note I am working with the progressive advocacy group Protect Your Care around the successful implementation of the Affordable Care Act.)

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