Guns, Voting and Health: A Voter's Reaction to the State of the Union

Readers Respond to Specific Passages from Obama's Address

Yahoo Contributor Network

Yahoo News asked readers and contributors to briefly respond to passages from Barack Obama's State of the Union address. Here's one reaction.

Obama on gun violence: "It has been two months since Newtown. I know this is not the first time this country has debated how to reduce gun violence. But this time is different. Overwhelming majorities of Americans - Americans who believe in the 2nd Amendment - have come together around commonsense reform - like background checks that will make it harder for criminals to get their hands on a gun."

My response: We've created a fiction in this country with the endless assertion that an object designed to cause death when used correctly, is not dangerous. That reality can be buried in jargon and false comparisons unto infinity, but it doesn't change the truth. Guns are tools to make killing easier.

I am relieved to see President Barack Obama taking a commonsense approach to the issue of gun control. As we see, sadly almost daily, not everyone can be trusted with such ominous power, and we need take guns for what they are. They aren't benign paperweights or interactive decorations. They're cheap means of quick death, and need to be treated accordingly.

Obama on health care: "I'm prepared to enact reforms that will achieve the same amount of health care savings by the beginning of the next decade as the reforms proposed by the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles commission. … The reforms I'm proposing go even further. We'll reduce taxpayer subsidies to prescription drug companies and ask more from the wealthiest seniors."

My response: Health care is a complicated beast, made more complicated in this nation by the fact that we have a mostly for-profit system, between the drug manufacturers and insurers. We pay more for our health in the U.S., and one theory is, simply, that our prices are higher. Why?

I suspect it's because they can be.

We pay drug manufacturers at both ends, subsidizing them and paying incredible prices; meanwhile, in Canada, the government caps the price at which prescription drugs can be sold. Health isn't a luxury only the rich deserve, and the president is slowly chipping away at the barriers that keep health care at arm's length for so many Americans.

Obama on voting problems: "We must all do our part to make sure our God-given rights are protected here at home. That includes our most fundamental right as citizens: the right to vote. When any Americans - no matter where they live or what their party - are denied that right simply because they can't wait for five, six, seven hours just to cast their ballot, we are betraying our ideals. That's why, tonight, I'm announcing a non-partisan commission to improve the voting experience in America."

My response: Desiline Victor, 102, waited three hours to vote in the 2012 election, and was honored by the State of the Union attendees - well, all but John Boehner - for her efforts. But we live in America, pillar of democracy, and in such a country, that delay is unconscionable.

Time and time again, people have died for the opportunity to make themselves heard. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), one of the original Freedom Riders, put it most eloquently, most movingly at the Democratic National Convention when he spoke of changing rules designed to keep people from voting.

A country that stops people from voting to in order to alter the outcome of an election is not a democracy, it is a dictatorship.

-- Isa-Lee Wolf, Chicago

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