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Saint Louis City, MO August 5, 2008 Election
Smart Voter Political Philosophy for Jeanette Mott Oxford

Candidate for
State Representative; District 59; Democratic Party

This information is provided by the candidate

In 2005, the GOP-led Missouri House of Representatives and Senate passed Senate Bill 539 which terminated the state's Medicaid healthcare delivery system, promising to replace it with some yet undesigned plan. This is a great example of Fire! Ready! Aim!

In 2007, MO HealthNet was created as a replacement, but since the 2005 cuts, more than 180,000 working parents, senior citizens in nursing homes, people with disabilities, and impoverished men, women, and children have lost health coverage due to this action.

Despite being wrapped in patriotic and moralistic rhetoric of "fiscal responsibility," "freedom of choice," and "personal responsibility," backers of the bill actually issued a call to radical individualism. Speaking for the bill, a GOP representative argued that it is patently unfair to force Missouri taxpayers to pay for someone else's healthcare if they do not wish to do so. This abandons the long-held American value of public policy for the common good. It also violates the core ethical tenets of all the major world religions.

Imagine a nation, if you will, where taxation involves a menu of options on which citizens may check boxes to designate where their tax dollars will go. Oppose the war in Iraq? Then do not mark the box for the Defense Department. Prefer the local trendy bookstore to the public library? Then hold back your dollars so some free-loading child will not get to read Dr. Seuss on your dime. Send your children to private schools? Then those irksome public schools dollars might be better placed in conservation for the taxpayer who likes to fish and hunt.

Add to this mix wealthy special interests who would purchase radio and TV ads and mailings to convince you and your neighbors to mark their clients on your taxation ballot. Lacking in slick promotional literature and heart-tugging commercials would be minimum wage workers without health insurance, babies born to addicted mothers, persons with severe mental or physical disabilities who will have to be institutionalized if not for in-home support services, and a host of others who suffer.

We have not quite reached the individual ballots for taxation phase, but the scenario that I describe around special interests and advertising closely resembles Congress and the Missouri General Assembly. Throughout political campaigns and public service, elected officials are bombarded with the persuasive speech and actions of lobbyists and campaign contributors, among whom the "haves" are overly represented and the "have-nots" are virtually absent.

One might call a political and geographical subdivision in which such conditions exist a region or a country, but it is not a state or a nation. It is a collection of individuals, each clamoring for his or her own desires and preferences. It is a popularity contest and not a democracy.

Building a strong state and nation depends on shared values of justice, mutual respect that wins out over prejudices, and a commitment to improving on the record of past generations. It involves putting our hearts, minds, and bodies into the building of a decent society in which no worker will live in poverty, all children will have high quality public education, and no one will go without needed healthcare. Compassion, sacrifice, and teamwork are demanded.

Some legislators promise that the churches and charities will step in and meet human needs in a very personal way once government is out of the way. It is hard to believe this claim, however, given that millions of families have been living without adequate basic human needs for decades, even with the assistance of subsistence level government programs. It is hard to understand how a withdrawal of government funds will create compassion and involvement from those who did not act to fill the multiple gaps left by the meager supply of caring neighbors and limited resources of helping agencies previously.

Pres. George W. Bush once advocated for an "ownership society," but it becomes more and more apparent that we are moving instead toward a "you're on your own society." That is not the Missouri in which I wish to live. It is time for all justice-minded people to unite to fight the agenda of radical individualism. Together we can weave a network of care around our communities, promoting the economic, social, cultural, and political conditions in which all our neighbors are valued and can flourish. We're in this together; our destinies are inextricably linked. Let's live like it!

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Created from information supplied by the candidate: June 25, 2008 12:55
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