The Thing With the Syrian Refugee Crisis

Whatever side of this you're on, the rhetoric we use to talk about these people who risk their lives... so their kids have a chance at not being dead makes it sound like we're talking about scraping gum off our shoes.

I’m starting off with this: I have absolutely no idea what I think should be done about the Syrian refugee crisis. I tend to have a politicly big mouth, but with this one… I can’t seem to make words. On the one hand, national security is of utmost importance and I’m perfectly aware that one of the Paris bombers got into the EU via a Syrian refugee program; but on the other, this massive humanitarian crisis is pulling at my merciful little heart.

(That said, you, dear reader, most likely don’t know what to do about the Syrian refugee crisis, either, whether you’re willing to admit it or not. In fact, most folks really don’t.)

The only thing I’m really confident in here is that we have got to change the rhetoric with which we’re speaking about these people — yes! people! — and remember that we all ain’t nothin’ but a bunch of humans trying to live freely and in peace. Whether their policy proposals are correct or  not, I’m disappointed at the way a lot of the country’s leaders are talking about the refugees.

This isn’t because I think we should admit them (but I’m not sure we should, either!). It’s because none of them are acknowledging that it is a tragedy that these people are displaced. It is a tragedy that our nation is having this debate at all. Deciding not to accept Syrian refugees might end up being the best possible decision (or it might not), but that doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t still be a tragedy. Where is the agony and heartbreak over deciding to turn them away? Where is the humanity?

Nothing explains this situation better than my spirit TV show character, Maggie Jordan of The Newsroom. In this scene she’s actually talking about undocumented immigrants and the passage of Arizona’s immigration bill SB 1070, but I think the sentiment is exactly the same. There’s a clip right here, and you can fast-forward to 3:17 if you want to skip Maggie and Jim’s adorable argumentative banter (but like, seriously why would you want to?):

Why I Think Politicians Need to be More Like Doctors

I have probably the most badass job out there—yup, you guessed it, I’m a healthcare reporter. All sarcasm aside, sometimes I do find some pretty interesting stuff amongst all of the Medicare/Medicaid jargon I sift through on a daily basis. It’s on those days that I feel most lucky to still be able to find myself moved by even the most mundane of facts. I had one of those days a few weeks ago.

Before I dive in, for the sake of this article, let’s all just take our opinions of Obamacare and put them in the corner for like, five minutes. I am not a doctor, nor a financial expert, nor a politician. If I knew the answer to all of the healthcare problems in this country, I, not Donald Trump, would be running for president. I don’t pretend to have the next answer in universal (or privately paid) healthcare, but my love for democracy isn’t pretend either, and I think it’s important we don’t shy away from the tougher questions as voters.

According to a recent poll conducted by the American Association for Physician Leadership, 55 percent of the physicians are starting to get on board with the Affordable Care Act – or, as we politically robust Millennials so fondly know it, Obamacare – because they can see “more good in it than bad.” The physician support for Obamacare is growing and growing because doctors think that it offers great opportunities for patients who otherwise wouldn’t have health insurance.

I found that statistic so staggering not because it’s an overwhelming number (because let’s be honest, it’s not), but because of the rationale behind the respondents’ answers. A group of people who really didn’t think this bill was going to work, and who really kind of didn’t want it to, are starting to warm up to it because they see that it’s doing some good for their patients, and I think that’s really beautiful.

What I don’t think is really beautiful is the fact that even if 100 percent of surveyed doctors thought that Obamacare was the best thing in modern medicine, a lot of politicians would still try to kill the law, all because it doesn’t align with their political ideologies. And what’s pretty messed up is that this doesn’t start and end with healthcare—politics is so ridiculously partisan in all areas and it kind of makes me sick.

A liberal presidential candidate believes in affirmative action not because she believes it a great equalizer in higher education, but because they are a liberal and that’s what liberals do. A conservative candidate opposes gay marriage not because she genuinely believes in a constitutional right to freedom of religion, but because conservatives simply oppose it. Politicians vote along party lines not because they want to see their constituents win, but because they want to see their political enemies lose. Pretty soon the whole country’s going to lose because nobody can get a damn thing done.

I think politicians need to be a little bit more like doctors. Doctors have their beliefs and can be set in their ways, but when it comes down to the well-being of the patient, most of the time they completely pull through. I know there are politicians out there like that (at least that’s what Leslie Knope taught me), but for the most part, I’m looking at a Washington tangled in party lines and partisan politics.

But what we all bring to the table, doctors and politicians alike, is hope. I sure know I have hope. Hope that we’ll sort out Obamacare. Hope that we won’t defund Planned Parenthood. Hope that we’ll figure out how to stop shooting each other, how to accept each other, how to live and let live. I have hope that some day doctors can be doctors and politicians can be politicians and nobody will need to act like the other. I have hope that someday politicians will care so much more about the people, their people and their voters, than their party.