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What we've decided in this election is that most people are comfortable with a regulated free-enterprise system in which the government helps provide education and health care for everyone and financial support for those who need it most, especially the elderly. What we'll continue to debate is how extensive those regulations and supports should be. But there is no question--except in the minds of the deluded--that any of our truly basic freedoms, especially the freedom to make money, are threatened in any significant way. In the real world, there is less drama to all this than meets the eye. Lessons have been learned. I remain optimistic that the professional politicians who lead the Republican Party will find a way to close a budget deal long before we reach a cliff, since they know they'll be blamed by a voting majority of Americans for any impasse.
But what about those disaffected white folks? I suspect they'll find Obamacare won't have the profound impact on the national character--or their lives--that they fear. But I worry that their sense of loss will fester and in some cases get ugly. Perhaps, as a gesture of good faith, the rest of us--those unthreatened by a polychromatic, polymorphic future--should listen to their more reasonable arguments, especially the ones that involve personal responsibility. Perhaps we should begin to think about ways that people who receive benefits like unemployment insurance, food stamps, even disability, can also give back. Because citizenship in a healthy democracy comes with responsibilities, and too many of us, of all incomes, haven't been responsible enough.
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