Brazil 'Envies' America's Public Health Care Debate
Brazilians, there is only envy in seeing a model of accountability in action that
doesn't exist here. Has any party, any person suggested, at the very least, for
there to be a televised debate between Brazil's government leaders and the
I write this during the
ongoing debate about health care, which at least in terms of domestic politics
is the major issue in the United States.
President Barack Obama has
called leaders of his own party, the Democratic Party, and leaders of the
Republican opposition, to a public discussion, in the sense that it's being
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It would be hard to find
mechanism better able to bring transparency and, at least in theory, quality to
the debate. It's obvious that there will be lots of theater and playing to the
audience. But nevertheless, this will be the appropriate occasion to explain
what Obama called when he opened the meeting, "a very ideological, very
partisan battle," which is capable of "trumping common sense."
Neither do I think that an
ideological or partisan discussion is necessarily negative. In the case of a
televised debate, it's a good way for the public to discover what ideology is
(or is not) behind the Republican and Democratic positions. And, based on that
definition, they must stand by the side of the position they most identify with
or the points of whatever party they agree with. There is no reason to suppose
that the public monolithically accepts every position of one party or the
According to what can be seen
at the time of writing, the central point of contention is truly ideological
and all encompassing, not just for the health care package: it's about the
role of the State. Republican Senator
Jon Kyl made it clear that in his opinion, the Democrats' plan to reform
the health system, "would give Washington too much control over it."
It must be understood that Washington stands for "federal
Obama leads Democrats and Republicans in
a public airing about the health care issue, Feb. 26.
In any case, it's up to
Americans to decide if this is or isn't so. For Brazilians, there is only envy
in seeing a model of accountability in action that doesn't exist here. Has any
party, any person suggested, at the very least, for there to be a televised
debate between government leaders and the opposition, about, for example, the
National Plan for Human Rights, the latest sizable controversy?
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In the North American debate,
President Obama listens, takes notes and pays attention. Has any Brazilian
president, past, present or future (taking into account the presumable
candidates) had the humility to at least pretend that he could be wrong and,
therefore, taken note of what others say about his plans or programs? And have
hey ever allowed for those in the opposition to say, live and in living color,
to say that the president is wrong?
Clovis Rossi is a special correspondent and member of the Folha
editorial board, is a winner of the Maria Moors Cabot award (USA) and
is a member of the Foundation for a New Ibero-American Journalism. His column
appears on Thursdays and Sundays on page 2 and on Saturdays in the World
Notebook section. He is the author, among other works, of Special Envoy:
25 Years Around the World and What is Journalism?
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