Editorials: Medical boards; and Should Dems run on race?

doc strike
Striking physicians assemble in Panama City a few years back. That was an argument mainly about pay and benefits, but the doctors also worked and sometimes fought for years to get a professional licensing system with which they AND their patients could live. Now some legislator wants to change that and didn’t even ask them about it? Big provocation. Archive photo by Kermit Nourse.

Dumbed down health care on the National Assembly’s agenda?

Q: “Why couldn’t Jesus get a license to raise the dead in Jerusalem?”

A: “’Cuz he got nailed on the boards.”

A joke doctors’ kids would tell on the Sunday school bus
way back when, especially around the time of Holy Week

The problem? As a PRD legislator from Colon, Mariano López, puts it: “Many doctors come out of the universities and are not permitted to become interns because they have to take an exam that some don’t pass.”

So now we are told that Law 43 of 2004, as amended in 2008 and with implementing regulations decreed after that, must give way some as yet unspecified bit so that those Panamanians who flunk the certification or recertification exams can get job in Panama’s public and private health care system.

Panama’s public and private health care systems have their problems, which are amenable to various solutions that might work. One of which is not eliminating or dumbing down the Technical Council of Health’s certification exams. Demagoguery may be a specialty but it’s not one of the healing professions.

Anyone with any knowledge of US society and history knows what it’s all about — he’s spouting racism to mobilize white voters in places and social strata that he figures would be important to get himself re-elected. The racist violence that he incites he will deny in one way or another. The question is how Democrats respond. Do we reject this stuff and defend our people, but mainly talk about what we would do for the country? Or do we make 2020 an identity politics election and focus mainly on the constituencies whom Trump has insulted?

Should Democrats run on race in 2020?

Really, it’s a suggestion brought up by very few Democratic candidates or leaders. There are candidates touching issues like reparations for slavery, the fate of undocumented people who have been in the USA for years, past stands on issues like mass incarceration for drugs that have disproportionately affected racial minorities and whether association with Barack Obama insulates a candidate from hard questions.

But leave the outright racial appeals to Donald Trump and his party. Within the Democratic Party leave the unseemly assertion of identity politics to the most insecure and grasping of the apparatchiki who, like in 2016, are already calling dibs on hack jobs and consulting contracts, the spoils arising from victories yet to be won and far from assured.

The Democrats, however, have a large and talent-rich field of presidential primary candidates. Assurances will be given to constituencies with this or that identity that their members will not be short-changed or brushed off in order to play to the prejudices or demands of some other group deemed more important. But the questions around which Democrats’ primary choices will be made and on which the campaign will be waged in the fall of 2020 are on their bottom lines economic. How does American confront ever more severe climate disasters – who gains what and who eats which losses? How does America fix the world’s most expensive but far from the best health care system? Can America afford a tax system in which the rich hardly pay? Can America afford wars all over the place with no notion of what victory even is and certainly no end in sight? Can Americans have an education system that gives individuals the freedom and capacity to decide what to do with their lives and also gives the collective nation a well trained and creative talent pool that can compete in any sphere with any other nation?

Let Trump and his crowds hurl the racial insults. The would-be Democratic presidential nominees have their various homeland renovation plans.

Within the Democratic ranks, let those who play variations on the “I’m ____ – you owe me this nomination / job / contract / party leadership post” theme be quietly checked off as unqualified. But let’s not eliminate anyone from consideration over some identity politics pecking order, either.

Yes, if you identify yourself as an Aryan nationalist, Democrats WILL dismiss you. Democrats reject all of those ugly hatreds. But the issue is America’s future. Look for that in the upcoming debates.

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.

Anaïs Nin
Graphic by Waldo Saavedra


Bear in mind…

Literature is huge — they can’t fit her even into the Library of Congress, because she keeps not talking English.

Ursula K. Le Guin

Know thyself? If I knew myself, I’d run away.


There can’t be a republic in which the people are not secure in the exercise of their own faculties.

Simón Bolívar


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