[...] I also think the general premise is ridiculous. I shop at Costco. A lot. If the CEO of Costco wrote an op-ed calling for a single payer health care system, I’d shrug, maybe write a blog post about why I think he’s wrong, and then I’d probably go to Costco this weekend to buy some dog food, some meat, and to try to eat my membership dues in free samples. Now, if the CEO of Costco wrote an op-ed calling for genocide against redheads, then yeah, I’d stop shopping there. But calling for a boycott of a conscientious company over its CEO endorsing proven ideas like HSAs and mainstream policies like tort reform is an attempt to push good ideas you disagree with to the fringe. It’s a way of zoning your opponents best arguments out of the realm of civilized debate. In other words, it’s a way to marginalize your opponents without actually having to debate them.
This is exactly right. Many of my friends on the left have lamented the state of debate on health care reform. We’d all like to see it move beyond death panels and keeping government’s hands off our Medicare. So it’s disappointing that when a CEO expresses cogent opinions about the matter and presents serious alternative policy proposals he is treated to such a harsh backlash. The response I’ve seen from many on the left is to dismiss him as a corporate shill or refuse to patronize his stores without giving serious consideration to his arguments.
The first response is irrelevant to the correctness of his ideas, even if the accusation is true (though I don’t doubt that Mackey truly believes what he writes). The second is counterproductive to the goal of achieving a better discourse. Is opposition to the public option really so evil as to deserve a boycott?
Reasonable people can disagree about the wisdom of the public option. Even if you support it, the only way to be sure of one’s position is to test it against the best challengers. The response to Mackey’s op/ed has demonstrated an unwillingness to do this and with it a tendency for the left to become as closed-minded on this issue as the right is currently perceived on others.