Everyone has a voice and everyone with a voice needs a platform in which to express that voice. For the Idea Dogs, that platform is our daily observations and opinions of the decline of America expressed through our words, phrases, rudimentary graphics, and sometimes expletives here and on Twitter. We reach out in hopes that someone listens, shares, discusses, or even rejects our point of view because we are concerned about the future.
Some platforms are more powerful and provide a wider audience for a voice. Traditional news commentators may have an Op/Ed page. Radio hosts commandeer airwaves. Talking heads and pundits have the cable news outlets.
Jimmy Kimmel is a writer and comedian with his own show on late night television — “Jimmy Kimmel Live” — that is approaching a 15th season. He reaches an audience of 2.5 million viewers and has another 1.5 million followers on Twitter. Kimmel has been around the Hollywood block a time or two, but he is something more than a jaded west coast celebrity. He is a human and a father, with a voice, and he has an incredible platform to use how he pleases.
In May, Kimmel revealed his own family’s personal healthcare crisis. Almost immediately after the birth of their son William, Kimmel and his wife Molly McNearny learned that the boy had been born with a congenital heart defect. The condition, known as tetralogy of Fallot with pulmonary atresia, involves a malfunctioning heart valve and a hole in the heart wall. Without rapid treatment, surgical care, and long term monitoring and additional procedures, it is a fatal diagnosis.
Following his son’s first surgery to correct the deadly heart defect, Kimmel took his emotions and his voice to his platform. Three months ago, the comedian gave a long 13-minute monologue to his live and television audiences and expressed how grateful he and his family were that doctors had been able to save his infant son.
Then Kimmel did something incredible. He made his personal struggle a universal appeal. He took on the Donald Trump, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, and the entire Republican establishment out to dissect and destroy Obamacare, not because he had to, but because it was the right thing to do for America.
Kimmel reached across the airwaves and explained that prior to elimination of pre-existing conditions regulations, a baby born with a congenital defect like his son’s would not live long enough even to have treatment rejected. An emotional Kimmel brought the message home that a faultless child should not be denied life because of an insurer’s administrative policy against pre-existing conditions.
Since then, Kimmel has maintained his rallying cry against GOP efforts to eliminate or gut Obamacare. This week, as Trump and Congress try yet again — after several failed attempts — to kill a law that polls suggest most Americans want, Kimmel has taken on the senator responsible for the latest repeal push.
Tuesday night, Kimmel opened his show with a scathing rant against the GOP and Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), who is leading the current “amendment” to dismantle Obamacare. Kimmel said that Cassidy had lied directly to his face about efforts to revamp the health care law and that he and GOP leaders were intentionally misleading about its impacts.
Cassidy countered Wednesday morning with another lie about his legislation’s coverage and the future of healthcare. He claimed that more people would be covered under his proposal and that pre-existing conditions would continue to be covered. Neither of those two statements is completely accurate.
Also Wednesday, a report by Avalere Health was made public and revealed some of the funding problems with Cassidy’s bill and the senator’s claims. According to both Avalere and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, federal health care funding would decline drastically if the Cassidy bill passes — up to $4 trillion over the next fifteen years. Additionally, the vote is being pushed through Congress so quickly that the Congressional Budget Office will not even have time to conduct a study or make estimates of the law’s effects.
Throughout the day Wednesday, GOP Obamacare opponents railed against Kimmel for his lack of understanding and inaccurate representations of the current repeal efforts. However, independent analysts support Kimmel’s assessment, adding to the credibility problem facing the Republican Party.
Whether the Cassidy amendments are helpful or not is only one question in a string of indefensible actions by the GOP. If the proposed bill is legitimate and beneficial, why is the GOP trying to force it through Congress like meat through a sausage grinder? Why is it that no Republican can answer for the desperate urgency to make repeal bills law without the usual time and consideration given to other Washington projects?
During the last repeal attempts, bill signatories and Congressional members at large did not even have time to read the proposed legislation before it went to a vote. America’s leaders must show more concern for the nation’s people than to vote blindly — and ignorantly — on bills with life or death consequences.
Jimmy Kimmel and his wife do not deserve the blow that fate has dealt them, and the same is true for their newborn son who faces a life of obstacles. No parent, child, or family should face the heartache, hardship, or uncertainty of whether a young life will blossom because of any congenital disease or defect. Ultimately, no American should ever wonder if his life will be cut short because the government decided to funnel tax cuts to the wealthy in trade for the basic human right of health care.
Kimmel is fortunate in that he has a voice, but he is even more fortunate that he has a powerful platform in which to apply that voice for good. It is a reminder to each of us, to not be silent, to not be afraid, and to not accept a government that refuses to care for its people. It is an inspiration to raise our voices and find our own platforms, no matter whom or how many ears they reach.