Divorce doesn't bring out the best in people. I should know. Not only am I divorced myself, I coach people who are going through divorce, teaching them strategies for handling stress and staying positive.
Although everyone handles crises differently, there are some common behavioral patterns that emerge in the wake of a bitter break-up. Out of all of these, the most gruesome to watch and difficult to change is a parent who deliberately pushes her children into the middle of the war zone while she battles it out with her ex. When the kids get riddled with bullets and arms or legs get blown off, the very parent who repeatedly shoves them into the minefield bemoans these injuries as being totally the fault of the other parent.
Everyone within a several mile radius can see that this parent is feasting off the carnage like a zombie feeds off the flesh of the living. The craving for the fight is so strong that time and time again the parent sacrifices the children's emotional health and well-being for a drama fix. Not only does this parent fail at Job One when it comes to parenting -- protecting her kids from harm -- she is actually inflicting the harm. As a bystander, it is stomach-turning to witness; but for the other parent in this situation it is nothing short of soul wrenching.
Texas Governor Rick Perry's poison pen letter to Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius reveals that he is suffering from a super-sized case of such irrationality. By refusing to expand Medicaid and establish a health insurance exchange as called for in the Affordable Care Act, Governor Perry is taking a position that harms millions of people -- people he is responsible for helping.
Texas would reportedly receive more than $70 billion over the next six years if Governor Perry were to take these steps. For the first three years, one hundred percent of the costs would be paid for by the federal government; after that, the federal government would pick up over ninety percent of the tab. Aside from securing access to health care for millions of uninsured Texans, the infusion of funds would have the secondary effect of helping the Texas economy.
Yet Governor Perry is loudly and publicly refusing to take the help. It's like if one spouse were trying to give money to the other spouse to take the kids to the doctor, and the other spouse were protesting, "Oh, no. I'm not taking that money or taking the kids to the doctor. If you wanted the kids to be able to go to the doctor, you should have agreed to pay me more child support in our divorce decree. Now the kids will just have to suffer. All of this is your fault."
Only instead of a few kids being caught in the crossfire, there are 6.2 million uninsured Texans whose access to health care is at stake -- including 1.2 million children. None of this affects Governor Perry's personal access to health care, of course. His health insurance is securely in place.
Irrational spouses will tell you with a straight face that their top concern is the best interest of their kids. Their delusion is so extreme that no amount of common sense or reasoning can get it through to them that their actions are hurting their kids. It's like trying to reason with a conspiracy-theorist or a Jersey Shore fan. Their idea of reality is completely different than most everyone else's.
Governor Perry's remarks in an interview last week on Fox News illustrate this point perfectly.
"Every Texan has health care in this state," Perry said. "From the standpoint of having access to health care, every Texan has that."
I sure hope those 6.2 million uninsured Texans are listening. To think that all this time they mistakenly thought they didn't have insurance and couldn't afford to take their kids to the doctor, let alone go themselves.
And while we're in the land of delusion making up imaginary realities to address real problems, we should go ahead and sign everyone up for a refresher class in abstinence-only birth control, too.
Because according to Governor Perry, "Abstinence works. It's the best form to teach our children."
The faster we get that word out, the better, given that Texas has the highest teen birth rate in the nation despite the fact that abstinence-only sex education is taught in 96% of school districts.
All of this begs the question of why Rick Perry is acting like a governor spurned. Could it be that he is still smarting from his flub-filled run for president and thinks that taking a stand like this somehow makes him look tough and patriotic rather than clueless and cruel? Could it be that he won't take the money just because of where it's coming from? Could he be cutting off his constituents' noses to spite their faces? I sure hope not, because that would require medical attention and without insurance, who can afford that?
According to Governor Perry, refusing to cooperate is about freedom -- specifically, freedom for Texas to decide how to deliver health care to Texans. But the fact of the matter is all of Texas's freedom in this area so far has gotten it to where it is today -- dead last when it comes to health care services and delivery. Given that, I'm guessing that the 6.2 million Texans who are uninsured might be willing to exchange that for a different kind of freedom: the freedom to be able to go the doctor when they need to.
Oftentimes irrational spouses act out because they feel they have been humiliated. I realize the case of electile dysfunction that flared up when Rick Perry made his bid for the White House must have been pretty embarrassing. But hey... at least he has health insurance. And just because he repeatedly made a fool of himself during the national televised presidential debates doesn't make it okay for him to come home and take it out on uninsured Texans.
Texans need Rick Perry to act like a governor, not a raging Rick.