Mike Huckabee Seeks to Replace Left vs Right Politics With Right vs Wrong
Part 3 of 3 Separate Reviews of Mike Huckabee and his latest book, Do the Right Thing.
By Bill Lopez
PALM HARBOR - An obscure figure on the national scene just a year or so ago, Mike Huckabee became a top contender for president of the United States for the 2009-2013 term. While he came up short behind Senators Obama, McCain and Clinton, he was persistent to the end never quitting until all his Republican Party delegate votes were cast and only then graciously congratulating John McCain, his opponent who went on to loose decisively to Barack Obama.
Huckabee also congratulated the Democrat victor and wished him well because Huckabee believes it is imperative for the president of the United States to bring leadership and wisdom to the office and be supported by the populace as well as political rivals.
Will Gov. Huckabee be heading again for the campaign trail? He claims that he does not know for sure. But he has taken the time to write about what is wrong with America and what we, as a nation, can do to make it right.
"Is it time to hit the RESET button on our nation," he writes in the last sentence of his book, Do the Right Thing, published by Sentinel/Penguin Books and released November 18th. The politician turned author, completed a 13,000-mile book tour last Thursday in San Antonio, Texas. After 56 stops at bookstores and churches across 17 states, Huckabee peddled many books but more important to him, he gave his best effort at persuading people to examine the issues of the day and look toward doing what is right from a commonsense perspective ignoring polarizing views of the left and right.
One of the biggest things wrong with America, he explains, is the incessant and often mindless confrontation of "left-vs- right/Republican-vs-Democrat/liberal-vs-conservative" that seems to overwhelm many issues that we face as a nation.
He correctly instructs that it is not about the horizontal spectrum of left vs right but rather, it is about the vertical view of right vs wrong. We must get off the polarizing discourse that divides people based on party alliance and the pervasive conservative-vs-liberal orientation that touches so many issues.
In staking out positions of just what is right vs wrong, he often reaches for simple idealistic answers to perplexing problems. Is it simplistic to approach national healthcare from the perspective that prevention of disease is our first priority?
He paints a picture of the nation's health being like an NFL football game. Twenty-two men on the field are desperately in need of rest and are being watched by seventy thousand people in the stands desperately in need of exercise.
Americans spends $2 trillion on health care each year accounting for approximately 17% of the Gross Domestic Product for the entire country. This is four times the amount spent on defense and the highest rate of expenditure for health care in the world.
We are a nation of unhealthy people taxing a healthcare system that is spiraling out of control. Overeating, lack of exercise, improper diet and use of tobacco make a growing number of Americans vulnerable to disease. Child obesity is on the rise and the average age of diabetes patients gets lower every year in the United States. As the age of those adversely affected by obesity and other negative health scenarios continues to drop, we may see 17-year-old high school students drop dead in class of heart attacks as these negative health influences impact younger and younger people.
So the crisis is two fold. Poor health among too many people and a dysfunctional healthcare system join to create the runaway costs we now have in our healthcare system. The worse part of this is that one third of the 47 million of uninsured in this country cannot afford to be sick or injured. The catastrophically uninsured are like trapeze artists working without a net. When they fall, they are seriously impaired physically, emotionally and financially and they place additional burdens on society.
Huckabee believes the Democrat approach of more government involvement in heath care and the Republican private-insurance approach in managing health care are both wrong.
He does not trust government or the insurance companies to make the kind of life-and-death decisions about health that one would want to make for one's self. He wants a consumer- driven health care model that empowers the individual to make more of the decisions and provide for a real relationship between doctor and patient.
Politicians do not like to campaign on issues that they cannot tackle effectively in one term, Huckabee observes about the healthcare reform. What he sees as the only real remedy for the current healthcare dilemma is a sweeping cultural change over how Americans live. Such a dramatic sea change cannot be achieved in a four-year election cycle but would take perhaps as long as a generation to achieve.
Precedents for such global change can be seen in anti-littering initiatives, the rise of seatbelt usage, prohibition of indoor smoking and the raised awareness of drunk driving.
Each of these negative behaviors took years to evolve into more enlightened behavioral patterns. At one time people might routinely toss a paper cup or napkin out of a car window without a second thought. But today that action would likely get some scornful looks and maybe a few horn honks and possibly a ticket.
Less than 20% of adults smoke cigarettes today when at one time over 60% of adults smoked. Mandating seat belt use was first considered an infringement of ones rights but today seat belt laws are routinely accepted. Moreover, nowadays, only a fool would drink and drive.
What will it take to make Americans healthy? Huckabee sees more than legislative actions to make this happen. Such change comes with the three A's that he spells out for us. First is ATTITUDE that can change with heightened awareness. Then, ATMOSPHERE, where change is introduced in the environment. (Placing trash cans where there is litter and no smoking signs where smoking is to be discouraged, for example.)
Finally comes the ACTION phase when government codifies into law a new cultural order. Making it against the law to smoke inside a building is something that people would never consider 40 years ago. And tickets are routinely written every day for seat best violations.
The healthcare system seems to reward people for using insurance by being sick. If healthy, people perceive that have wasted the money spent on premiums. This needs to be turned around but the mechanics for doing this are far from clear in the book.
The Governor does point out some tangible programs that he initiated in his home state of Arkansas where his administration launched the Healthy Arkansas Initiative that resulted in healthier choices among state employees.
An on-line health risk assessment taken by state employees resulted in a $500 discount per year on health insurance. Stop-smoking programs were offered at no cost to employee and employees were given access to weight-loss programs. Work breaks were given to employee who would walk, run or exercise during the workday. Points earned for pounds lost were redeemed for personal-leave time. The entire program was geared to reward health, not illness.
That is what has to happen in America to change the state of health and take the pressure off healthcare services. This is more philosophy than a political agenda at this point but laws can follow the public's will to mandate health.
The vertical approach that focuses on commonsense solutions for not only health care but also education, the economy and all the important issues of our times is what has been sadly lacking.
According to Mike Huckabee, it is time for Americans and their elected leaders to stand up and Do the Right Thing. He recently formed HuckPac to assist Republicans running for office nationwide. He believes conservative leadership is best suited to lead America forward in the 21st Century offering the best reflection of American values and priorities.
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