In his 1973 book, “Winning Through Intimidation,” Robert Ringer wrote that when he was negotiating with another party who brought an attorney along, the attorney would typically begin by saying, “He (the client) wants …” this or that. Later, Ringer said, the attorney would change the pronoun to, “We want …” When the attorney’s pronoun inevitably changed to “I want … ,” Ringer said he would get up and walk about of the room because he knew the negotiation focus had shifted from the deal to the ego of the attorney.
Alas, there has been a pronoun shift in the health care reform debate that should be pointed out.
“He (Americans) wants …”
In the beginning, most people on both sides of the debate agreed that something should be done to improve the way we deliver and pay for health care. Initially, the debate was over how to accomplish that Herculean task, and it sounded like, “He wants …”
“We want …”
Even though Democrats control the Legislative and Executive Branches, there is a heated debate within the party about health care reform. So when you blend this internal debate with the political prudence of passing legislation that includes Republican votes, then stir in the arbitrary time pressure President Obama and the Democrat leadership have placed on this process, the result is a political contest with so many different players and rules that the average person watching can’t possibly score this game at home. This is where the debate sounds like the attorney is saying, “We want …”
“I want …”
In all of this convolution, there is one thing that is becoming clear to regular folks: Those in the “damn the political torpedoes, full speed ahead” camp are looking like their objective has evolved from health care reform for its own sake to health care reform purely for the sake of politics, as in, “I want …”
No one is naive enough to believe that any health care reform won’t be political, but when we’re talking about a topic that involves 17% of the U.S. economy and has few peers in terms of the personal impact on every American, shouldn’t we expect the final reform product to actually be focused more on lasting solutions than on accomplishing a political victory?
Watching this embarrassing mayhem has led me to want no health care reform legislation at all right now. Any bill produced in the current process will be flawed policy that will surely create more harm than good. The reform process should be scrapped completely until the debate addresses societal and market realities of the 21st century, rather than be the victim of political dysfunction.
It’s time for Americans to tell Congressional delegates to walk away from this negotiation until the correct pronouns are being used.
Recently, on my small business radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show, I talked about the problems with the current state of health care reform. Also on my show this week, I discussed health care reform with Grace-Marie Turner, President of the Galen Institute. Take a few minutes to listen to these thoughts on this important topic and, as always, be sure to leave your thoughts.