One last trip to the fair: We want to make a final trip to the free health care clinic which was conducted at the Wise County Fairgrounds in rural southwestern Virginia.
More specifically, we want to ask you why Mark Johnson, age 56, believes the things he believes.
In Monday's New York Times, Trip Gabriel published a valuable news report about the clinic, and about the suffering people who traveled hours to access its services. Let's start today with a person, a doctor, who plainly deserves our respect:
GABRIEL (7/26/17): Dr. Joseph F. Smiddy, 75, a lung specialist who has volunteered at every RAM clinic here since the first in 1999, said people’s health was getting worse, not better, as the regional economy shed well-paying jobs, primarily in coal, and diets and lifestyles deteriorated.A significant point before moving on: Gabriel should have explained that comment about Medicaid.
“We’re sicker here than in Central America,” said Dr. Smiddy, who has volunteered on charity health trips there. “In Central America, they’re eating beans and rice and walking everywhere. They’re not drinking Mountain Dew and eating candy. They’re not having an epidemic of obesity and diabetes and lung cancer.”
In a lead-lined truck he had modified to perform chest X-rays, Dr. Smiddy saw Sherman Devlin, 51, a heavyset former miner complaining of shortness of breath.
“I don’t have no income,” Mr. Devlin said, speaking with difficulty. “I’m a broke-down coal miner. I can’t do what I used to do.” Even though he received Medicaid, he said it did not cover much.
That said, let's move on:
Dr. Smiddy is 75. Presumably, he doesn't have to volunteer for these clinics, nor did he have to volunteer for the service he provided in Central America. We'd have to say that Dr. Smiddy has earned the nation's respect.
Meanwhile, Devlin is 51. He's the kind of person our liberal tribe has long tended to disregard and demean. Do you remember the two weeks of dick jokes, back in 2009, from a certain unnamed cable host? How we laughed at all the "teabaggers"
before they started kicking our ascots at the ballot boxes!
This brings us to the question of Mark Johnson's beliefs. In this passage, Dr. Smiddy comments on the political beliefs of people in Virginia's depleted coal country:
GABRIEL: Dr. Smiddy grew up in Wise, a picturesque county seat on the Daniel Boone Heritage Trail. He said that the United Mine Workers of America had once operated one of the best hospitals in the state here, but that it had closed after mine owners drove out the union.Dr. Smiddy grew up in Wise, the county seat of Wise County. He understands what happened to the local hospital after the bosses drove the union out.
“The people of this area have been told by the politicians and President Trump that coal is coming back,” Dr. Smiddy said. “They believe that. They’ve been told that Obamacare is no good. They believe that. They believe that Trump’s going to bring them TrumpCare.”
“We all know when we take 32 million people out of the system”—an allusion to a Congressional Budget Office analysis of how many would lose coverage under one Republican plan—“that these people will be the first to go,” he said.
Mark Johnson, 56, a disabled truck driver from Coeburn who came to have 10 teeth pulled, said the president’s opponents had created distractions with charges about Russia. “They won’t leave him alone enough to do anything,” he said.
He also seems to know what people in the area have been told, and what they believe. Mark Johnson, age 56, seems to provide an example.
Coeburn, Virginia is part of Wise County. Johnson seemed to tell Gabriel that Donald J. Trump's opponents are the ones who are causing the problems.
Our questions would be these:
Who told the people at that clinic that Obamacare is no good? Why did they believe them?
What kind of effort did liberals and progressives make to tell them that they were being misled? To tell them they've been misled about may things, for many years?
Presumably, the people to whom Dr. Smiddy refers have been misled by the usual suspects. Our closing questions would be these:
To what extent has our liberal contempt led them into Rush Limbaugh's hands, then into the hands of Fox? We refer to liberal contempt extending back a very large number of years.
Last fall, in Vox, Sarah Kliff wrote about middle-aged women in rural Kentucky with insurance under Obamacare who couldn't afford to go to the doctor. We liberals reacted with contempt and incomprehension.
Why do we behave that way? How long has this been going on? Is it possible that we are part of the problem here, along with the gruesome Donald J. Trump, lord of all he surveys?