I was speaking today with three women in their 30's and 40's in those minutes around a table before a meeting starts. Health insurance provided by employers versus that purchased at high cost was the subject at hand, as all three have husbands who are self-employed or at private companies, which offer plans inferior to state of NH plans. Also, siblings who make much less and purchase health insurance on the exchanges were referenced with some tut-tutting. They have already ratcheted up in their minds to expecting that everyone should not only have health insurance, but really good health insurance that doesn't cost very much.
There are side issues here, such as the implied Old Contract for civil servants We will pay you low wages but give you great benefits: Cadillac health insurance, increasing vacation time, slight but regular raises, job protection - which has crumbled over time in the race between unions, agencies, and legislatures to game the system; the procedures people now expect to be covered that many of us would consider optional; the different starting points of "what we provide is governed by what we deem to be fair" vs "this is governed by what we have in cash-on-hand." All valuable things to discuss, but really, I'm not an expert here and there are other sites which offer a better discussion product.
What struck me was a single phrase offered with some vehemence about coverage: "This is America!" As near as I can guess, knowing her, knowing how human services people think, is that this meant America is a wealthy country. It is only civilised that everyone within our borders should have health insurance taken care of without impoverishing themselves. We are good and generous people. There were no comparisons to Europe, no accusations against the rich - perhaps those are implied underneath, but they weren't stated. There is a type of liberal, perhaps the most common type, that shrinks back from conflict and making others feel bad. They admire those politicians that are more strident and forceful, but they seem to have no awareness that the inevitable result of what they state in positive terms, even if it is undeniably fair and just, is going to be expensive. It does not register that it is they who will pay.
I said nothing, but it occurred to me that the phrase "This is America!" could have many different meanings, even opposite meanings, from the lips of others. This is how we talk past each other, and must define our terms. Liberty, American values, Christian, generous, moral - we don't mean the same things when we say them.