Oh, I’m Sorry America, It’s Complicated
America is dealing with a lot of important decisions right now. If we had a national Facebook page, it’s relationship status would be set to “It’s Complicated”. Few people have a clear grasp of any issue and our focus on hyperbole instead of fact and reason.
It seems from the informal debates that I’ve taken part in, most people are getting their “facts” from the 24 hour news cycle, a blend of opinion, partisanship, and conspiracy, neatly packaged and then served up in a 15 minute block on the evening news.
In a recent discussion with some family, the major complaint that they had about the healthcare bill was that it was too complicated to follow. Indeed, the Republicans in Washington have often complained at the size of the healthcare bill, saying that it wasn’t possible to read and comprehend the bill due it’s size.
Opponents of the healthcare bill complained so loudly about the size of the bill that President Obama’s staff eventually capitulated to political pressure and created an 11 page version of the bill that summarized it’s goals in a concise manner.
When I saw this, I started to ask myself why the American public feels the need to have policy limited to a 15 minute read. If an issue is complex, and the legislation involved is broad, wouldn’t you expect the documentation to reflect that fact? Do we now expect our legislation to be served up like a fast food meal, hot, quick, and complete in 5 minutes? Why do we have this expectation?
I found another example of this attitude when I was having lunch with friends. Different political / social topics came up and the general consensus of opinion that they had was that they didn’t have the time to stay up on what was going on. However, if you were to push on an issue that had a partisan slant, just about everyone at the table had an instant opinion.
The issues that face America right now are extremely complex, and the average person is neither equipped or interested in doing the work required to fully understand them.
The financial meltdown that happened in 2009 was one of the biggest “oh shit” moments of our life-time. It put millions out of work and spread a fear throughout our entire country that everyone felt. I watched CNBC for six months straight, trying to get a good understanding of “what went wrong” and the only thing I know for a fact right now, after all that, is that I simply will not fully understand the issue.
When it comes to the healthcare bill, I also acknowledge that the issue is complex enough to confound my most of the time. I’ve actually read much of the bill and at times, I would get completely lost. However, I believe that this is due to the complexity of the subject matter, not because of the page count.
What’s the Answer?
Truth is, I don’t know for sure. However I do know that the answer will not be attained by simply demanding that the subject matter be simplified.
You cannot just take a complex topic and condense it into a easy-to-digest morsel that people can comprehend via Twitter. If this were possible, rocket science and heart surgery would not be limited to a small group of individuals.
I do know that the first step towards turning these debates on important issues into meaningful, useful progress is for people to start taking it seriously. Stop watching your favorite opinion news cast, and regurgitating their slant as fact, be a responsible adult, read the bills, research the issues, and exercise your right to vote!
It will take hard work to get through the hurdles that face America and we can’t simply choose the path of ignorance, simply because it offers temporary bliss.
See It In Action
Uneducated / Unprepared
Educated / Prepared