Steele: Health Care Debate Would Have Been Worse In 1800s

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Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele is unfazed by the sometimes vitriolic debate over health care this August, sharing the opinion of other commentators that it's healthy to hash our differences out in public, even if it sometimes involves shouting--that this, basically, is democracy in action. Our own Matthew Cooper said as much, as did FreedomWorks spokesman Adam Brandon ("This is not PG rated. Political activism does take on an edge"). In an interview with ABC radio, Steele looked to history:

"I wasn't around in the 1800s and the 1700s, but I'm a student of history and politics, and I know what those political squabbles, if you will, were like - a lot more violent, if you will.  People were dueling and all kinds of other things going on in those days."
"If you don't like the heat, get out of the kitchen," Steele said.  "And the reality of it right now is that the American people are bringing heat to the table."

Needless to say, I wasn't around in the 1700s or 1800s, either, so I share Steele's inability to say first-hand whether the animated, sometimes toxic debate is a historical tradition of our nation's democracy. But (especially with a few conservatives having brought out their guns) thank goodness we haven't seen any duels in '09.

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Chris Good is a political reporter for ABC News. He was previously an associate editor at The Atlantic and a reporter for The Hill.

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