So, I’m not certain that President Obama or his speechwriters actually understand what “individualism” is. In a speech on Tuesday, President Obama was speaking to the Catholic Health Association discussing the topics of health care in America and Obamacare, when he described Obamacare as part of our tradition of “rugged individualism that defines America.”
The President seems to have forgotten that Obamacare is quite literally the opposite of what we would call… individualism. Perhaps understanding that no one, any where, would be able to understand how he could possibly link our history of “rugged individualism” with something that forces some people to take care of other people, the President tried to explain what he meant.
The rugged individualism that defines America has always been bound by a set of shared values; an enduring sense that we are in this together. That America is not a place where we simply ignore the poor or turn away from the sick. It’s a place sustained by the idea that I am my brother’s keeper and I am my sister’s keeper. That we have an obligation to put ourselves in our neighbor’s shoes, and to see the common humanity in each other.