In the last two debates, the GOP debate audience has cheered: 1. 234 executions, 2. Letting uninsured people dieI was already aware of the incident that point #1 refers to, and found Bruce Reyes-Chow's commentary on that incident to be a more than sufficient response. I chose not to throw in "my two cents" at that time, except to share that post via Twitter and Facebook.
The idea that a second seemingly-appalling display of malice might have occurred at the very next Republican debate surprised me, and I posted the following response on my own Twitter account:
To the extent this is true, perhaps Repubs should be more careful who sits in their audiences. Can't help them look good.It was important to me to express that "to the extent this is true" caveat. I try not to assume malice when a more benign explanation will do. Even so, the possibility that such sentiments may be becoming widespread is more than a little disturbing. I have since had the opportunity to go back and watch a video of the incident in question. Here is a brief clip (less than two minutes long):
But even as a vocal minority, this remains a problem, and to the extent that Christians identify with Ron Paul, the Tea Party, Republicans, or anyone else these debates were intended to represent, we would do well to distance ourselves from such remarks. Personal responsibility is one thing, but callous disregard for life is something that should never be associated with those of us who proclaim the name of Christ. We need to do more than just deny that such vocal evil is at all representative of what we actually believe. We need to prove that we care about whether or not people are adequately cared for. If that means, as Paul suggested, that churches and charities pick up the slack, great! There's plenty of room for non-government options to make sure that proper medical care is made available.
I'm not wholly unsympathetic to the desire to hold people accountable for their own lack of foresight. If a person chooses not to get medical insurance in a timely manner, I'm not saying "treat them anyway" regardless of what's wrong. Many maladies can safely be considered comparatively mild nuisances, and I don't think we should be trying to eliminate all discomfort. There's room to allow people to learn from their own mistakes. But if it comes down to whether a person lives or dies, the "personal responsibility" argument must not become a shield for Christians to hide behind and avoid our own responsibility to provide care for those who need it. Jesus didn't command us to care for the sick with the caveat "but only the sick that deserve it."