Now the rage of the the far right-wingers has been even more puzzling, and the several acts of vandalism and threats to some Democratic lawmakers around the country this week are just bewildering.
But of course, the anger is not really about health-care, it is about government, and anyone familiar with American history knows that anti-government sentiment is an old American tradition that goes back to the founding of the colonies and the revolt of the colonies against king and parliament.
What I find particularly striking is the emotional response of those most conservative Americans when ever you have a conversation about politics, "government" or related issues (such as taxation). Immediately comes the word "freedom" with the assumption that government is there to take away their freedom (preferable through a conspiracy). The assumption is also that "true freedom" only exists in the US (contrary to "socialist Europe)" which makes those Americans closed to considering any other alternative (such as, in this case the European health-care system). In fact, there is no way to talk about anything else to those people.
Of course, freedom lies at the heart of the American identity as individuals and as a nation. The word itself is so emotionally charged in the U.S. that most Americans use it without thinking about what it really means If you ask them, they may mention "democracy" or most certainly "free market", and maybe the right to bear arms and more generally, they'll talk about less government and less taxation - which are both seen as necessary evils.
This very limited definition of freedom is deeply rooted in the national narrative - after all, wasn't the American Revolution fought because of taxation of a "tyrannical" British government? (when in reality, Americans had more freedom than their contemporaries). Isn't the American hero a self-relying rugged individual? These may be myths but many Americans believe in them and find it hard to question a system and an ideology that, in their eyes, has been proved successful. After, all, isn't that because of her "unique freedom" that the United-States has become the most powerful and the wealthiest in the world?
So goes the reasoning anyway.
But the reason why health-care became such a hot issue is political is that the Conservative wing of the Republican party (which is most of it) and its media tool, Fox News, have been using and twisting his national narrative for their own agenda (and that of the insurance lobbyists).
If you think of it, in reality more freedoms were taken away from the American people by the Patriot Act than any other measure since WWII, the government became more powerful under Bush or Reagan than Clinton, and the deficit grew during Republican administrations and decreased under the Democrats. Where was the outrage then? Where were the Tea Party nuts?
The very fact that so many Americans can go bezerk and extreme over the issue of "government" shows that it is deeply entrenched in a twisted national narrative - it goes beyond reason. Times have changed and this is not the 18th or 19th century any more. Of course, in reality freedom is not under threat and tyranny of government is not around the corner. If the American right-wing nuts were not so rigid in their view of freedom and less isolated intellectually from the rest of the civilized world, they would see that access to health-care is a more important freedom in this day and age than free access to weapons, which, ironically they would defend to the death.