Steve Israel: Let’s put politics aside and work for the common good – Opinion –

Shouldn’t the folks we elected to serve all of us work together for the best, most affordable health care for all of us?

Isn’t that what our representatives are supposed to do?

Instead, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell practically grits his teeth, forces his mouth open and, sounding like a kid whose mom force-feeds him a tablespoon of canned peas, says that if he and his fellow Republicans can’t pass a new health-care law, they’ll have to “sit down with (Democratic Minority Leader) Senator Schumer” and negotiate — and compromise — with Democrats.

Isn’t working together for the health of all Americans what politicians like McConnell and Schumer were elected to do?

Instead, Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives, point fingers at one another for the failure to improve Obamacare — and nothing gets done.

Those politicians are symptomatic of a bigger problem that infects us all, whether we live in Washington, D.C., or Washingtonville.

We’ve become so polarized by politics, people I know and respect won’t talk to one another if they disagree with each other’s political views. Not only do we try to pigeonhole one another, words like “liberal,” “conservative,” “Republican” and “Democrat” have become curses to demonize those with whom we disagree.

How can we even begin to find the solutions to challenges like health care if we don’t talk to each other?

Sadly, no politician divides us more than the one person who’s supposed to try and unite us — President Donald Trump.

From mocking TV hosts with crude, juvenile language like “crazy” and “low IQ” to posting that doctored video of him bashing a TV network he doesn’t like, the most powerful man in the world drags us down to the gutter of boorish behavior rather than elevating us to reasoned, civil discourse to find common ground.

When it looks like members of Congress can’t agree on that health-care bill, Trump throws up his hands, blames the Democrats, and distracts us with those vicious tweets. Then he breaks a campaign promise to “repeal and replace” Obamacare “essentially simultaneously.”

Instead, Trump said that if the Republicans can’t agree on a bill “they should immediately REPEAL now and then REPLACE at a later date.” So instead of guaranteeing “insurance for everybody” and not cutting Medicaid as he vowed a few months ago, Trump would now jeopardize the health of millions of Americans who could lose their insurance, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. My wife, who has Type 1 diabetes and gets affordable life-saving treatment because of Obamacare, would surely be affected.

Is this who we are? Nasty people who call one another names, refuse to work with one another and risk the lives of family, friends and neighbors because we have different political views?

I don’t think so.

We’re at our best when we rise above our differences and work together for the common good.

Did World War II soldiers like my father-in-law ask their fellow soldiers whether they were liberal or conservative, Muslim, Catholic or Jewish when they were on the battlefield fighting Germany, or when they were on battleships being bombed by Japan?

When a flood or snowstorm knocks down trees, closes roads and cuts electricity, do we ask our neighbors who they voted for before we offer them food and water?

We help each other because we know that’s the right thing to do.

Shouldn’t we do the same in our political lives as we do in our personal lives?

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