It was my plan to tell you today about my final sermon as senior pastor of Virginia-Highland Church, which I will preach on Sunday; however, I’m too angry to talk about that right now.
I have been watching the renewed attempt by the Republicans to repeal the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, and I am convinced that this is a war on the poor. The current proposal is authored by two white-male, conservative senators, one from Louisiana, the other from South Carolina. They are proposing an end to the protections for those with pre-existing conditions, Medicaid expansion to cover the working poor, and help for those who can’t afford their premiums. They are trying rush this legislation through before the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office can assess how many people will lose coverage.
Worst of all, under the guise of “states’ rights,” they are proposing block grants to all states to help them cover the cost of health care. If the phrase “states’ rights” doesn’t make you nervous then you aren’t old enough to remember that it was popularized by other white-male Southern politicians like George Wallace who kept insisting that the states should have the right to determine if their schools were integrated.
It isn’t an accident that this is once again a Southern strategy. Most states in the South did not expand Medicaid when they had the chance, while progressive states in the North and West did. Why? Let’s be honest: In the legislatures of states like Georgia and Texas, the unspoken reason they left hundreds of thousands of their poorest citizens without health coverage, is that, in those states, the working poor are disproportionately people of color. They don’t want to cover black and brown people.
Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana are a pale shade of white and have contrived a radically racist proposal that will take away protections guaranteed by Obamacare and give money to the states in which white-wing Southern legislators can continue their racist policies. Does ANYONE really believe that the former Confederate States and states like Missouri and Oklahoma are going to use this money to ease the suffering of people of color?!? Graham and Cassidy have been Southern politicians long enough to know that what they are doing is creating a cover for depriving more and more of the working poor of health care while supplementing their base, most of whom have insurance.
This racist bigotry must be named as the evil it is. How much longer will ethical whites remain silent without feeling the conviction that our silence makes us co-conspirators with white supremacists, NOT disciples of a first century Middle-Eastern rabbi who had brown skin?
Rev. Michael Piazza