Rep. Michel Consejo: Not a communist!

by Rob Roper

Rep. Michel Consejo

Rep. Tom Burditt (R-West Rutland) gave an impassioned speech on the House floor following the vote on H.202, the single payer health care bill. It was a comprehensive break down of the failures of the current health care system, the partisan failures of the political process, and the many failures of the health care bill his body had just passed.

It was one of the more lucid pieces of analysis to come out of the debate. [You can read the full speech HERE.]

In his concluding remarks, Burditt mentioned “I find it very sad in a country where men and women have died fighting to preserve our freedom, and have died fighting off socialism, communism and most recently Radical Muslim beliefs, that some are now considering socialized medicine as a solution to improving access to health care.”

He also cited Lenin’s quote, “Medicine in the keystone in the arch of socialism,” and noted, “There is nothing compassionate about socialism…. [Y]es, we need health care reform, but it needs to be based upon the principles of individual freedom and individual responsibility.”

These remarks touched a nerve with Rep. Michel Consejo (D-Swanton). They were, according to Consejo, “more than my soul could bear.” In his rather bizarre reaction, Cansejo said:

My name, my accent, my origins, my upbringing – all those facts compounded, make me wonder when I am going to be targeted. To tell me, here, that I am a communist, a socialist, and to compare my actions to radical Islamists, only precludes the days that I am going to be asked to go back to my own country. This, Mr. Speaker, is my certificate of naturalization – on November 14 of 1986, I became a proud citizen of this country. In 1979, when I filled out my documents to enter the U.S.A. as a permanent resident, I was asked to swear that I was never a member of the communist party in my country of origin.”

Clearly Burditt did not “target” anybody with his remarks, and certainly did not specifically single out Rep. Consejo in any way. However, Consejo did attack Rep. Burditt directly, and this attack met with enough approval from Rep. Linda Waite-Simpson (D-Essex) that she made a motion to have the statement added to the permanent journal of the House.

The dictionary definition of socialism is, “a political theory or system in which the means of production and distribution are controlled by the people and operated according to equity and fairness rather than market principles.” So, is Burditt’s characterization inaccurate?

This single payer health care movement in Vermont aims to remove market principles from health care and to distribute care based on equity and fairness. If it deviates from the socialist model in any way it is that a panel of five elite insiders making every decision does not leave the “people” in control of anything – which is an element of a far scarier form of government.