On Friday, June 29th, I went to the movie theatre and saw Michael Moore's new film "SiCKO" along with everyone else who helped the film gross about $1.4 million on opening day across a measly 400 screens.
This is Michael Moore's best film to date, which is saying a lot. Whether you agree with Michael Moore's opinions or not, his filmmaking and storytelling ability as a documentarian is unique and second-to-none. He knows exactly how to prove the point he's trying to make as efficiently and touching as possible. This film kicked his game up a notch.
As I watched the film, Howard Beale's monologue from Network kept playing over and over in my head: "You've got to say, 'I'm a HUMAN BEING, Goddamnit! My life has VALUE!'...Things have got to change. But first, you've gotta get mad!... You've got to say, 'I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!' Then we'll figure out what to do..."
But when you leave, you shouldn't be talking about the filmmaking.
What you should be talking about is what's wrong with the American healthcare system and how to fix it. It is undeniable that the system is broken. Perhaps you might not agree with Michael Moore's suggestions on how to fix it (although I do) but we can all agree that the system is, in fact, broken beyond repair.
We need to start over and this film needs to be the beginning of that dialogue. (And for those of you who think Michael Moore is a liar, CNN fact checked the film and found it quite accurate.)
The film's central question is this: "This system is broken. Even people in the system are dying and being prevented from getting care because the basis of the system is a profit-motive instead of a genuine care in people. Is this who we've become as a nation? Is this really who we are?"
A lot of conservatives will argue that this film is un-American. I would argue that it's the America that fostered this travesty of a healthcare system is what is un-American. Richard Nixon's America was un-American. George Bush's America is un-American.
"SiCKO" is dripping in pro-American ideals. The most prominent? That we can do better.
How? Well, the film answers that question, too. We take all the best aspects of everyone else's healthcare systems until we perfect it and every American is covered.
Perhaps maybe the solution is even simpler than that, though. What if we just offered Medicaid to every American who couldn't afford health insurance? That wouldn't be enough, but it would certainly be a hell of a start. I had both of my kids with Medicaid and it was an experience as good as any described in "SiCKO" in foreign countries.
What it comes down to is this: Until people can no longer profit from denying people health coverage, the system will remain broken. Until we realize that taking care of each other is better than just taking care of ourselves, the system will remain broken. Until we get over our irrational fear of government run systems, the system will remain broken.
We all need to start thinking about what we can do to reverse these problems.
We need to regulate HMO's until they are out of business. We need to remind people that fire departments, the military, post offices, public schools, libraries, Medicaid, Social Security, food stamps and hundreds of other government run agencies are already "socialized" and are run so well that our country would be crippled without them. We trust the government to run Homeland Security and "protect" us from terrorists, but we won't let them protect us from sickness and disease?
We need to treat healthcare as the next civil rights frontier and a good step in this direction is to take all of your friends to go see "SiCKO". Your friends don't have to like it, but they sure as hell have to discuss it and recognize the magnitude of the problem we face.
And maybe when everyone is talking about it and everyone understands that their lives have value, then, Goddamnit, maybe we'll do something about it.
Bryan Young blogs daily at This Divided State.