The core principle of the Republican Right is to get rid of the trial lawyers. One must ask why is this so important to Republicans. Are Republican’s immune from Medical Malpractice? Are Republican’s immune from car wrecks? Do sleepy truck drivers only run over Democrats?
Of course not. The reality is that the Republicans are the party of Big Business and the Democrats are the party of consumers. Class is the real issue in all politics but especially American politics. What is unusual I suppose about American politics is that the rhetoric used by the Republicans attracts so many naturally conservative poor people. They are somehow convinced that they are freer with corporate welfare than with social programs. They are somehow convinced, despite the overwhelming evidence, that health care would be cheaper and better if doctors didn’t have to be accountable to juries for their screw ups.
Medical malpractice cases are not about frivolous lawsuits. In no area of law are there fewer frivolous claims than in medical malpractice. In order for a trial lawyer like myself to sue a doctor, has to commit at least $100,000 of the lawyer’s own money. With the attitudes of juries about medical malpractice, no sane lawyer would ever sue a doctor unless the conduct complained of was outrageously bad and the result catastrophic. The words “frivolous lawsuit” and “medical malpractice” do not belong in the same sentence. Just do the math. We lawyers are supposed to be so calculating. Would we risk $100,000 on something laughable?
What does that have to do with 9/11? Well the Republican’s are the ones who also think that every problem in our world requires the intervention of the American military. I have two confessions for my readers. One, I grew up liberal Democrat at the time we were drafting American boys do die in Vietnam. I was one of those at risk of being drafted. I struggled with what to do about that, whether to become an illegal immigrant to Canada, go to jail or serve in a conflict I knew was morally reprehensible. The first step in that decision was to file for conscientious objector status which I did before I graduated from high school. I didn’t get drafted because my draft lottery number was 252.
My second confession is that I listen to NPR, usually On Point with Tom Ashbrook. http://www.onpointradio.org/
I listen to On Point and I contrast this shows in depth treatment of the issues of our time against the experiences of my life. I reached adulthood knowing that war was wrong. I reached adulthood also having read all of the books of James Michener, particularly Caravans, a book about Afghanistan. I reached 9/11 very concerned about the ongoing domestic war in Israel, a war that seemed as if it would never end.
On 9/16/2001 I sat in the pew of my church, contemplating what had happened, contrasted against who I was, how I became that person and what I knew about history. What I concluded as the pastor was concluding his remarks was that regardless of how “war like” the attacks of 9/11 had been, we could not fight a war to prevent it.
I got up and said: “You can’t start a war to catch a criminal.” What we got instead was a War on Terror. That war has worked about as successfully as our War on Drugs. That war makes about as much sense as the Depression Era American government declaring war on Indiana to find John Dillinger.
While I am morally opposed to modern war, I do understand war’s necessity. World War II was necessary despite all of the horrible atrocities committed by all sides in its prosecution. But to have a war, you have to have an opposing government or force against whom to direct a legitimate military campaign. We had that in World War II of course. We even had it in Korea and Vietnam. But who did we declare war against in Afghanistan? Osama Bin Laden?
One of the lessons we should have learned in Vietnam is that it is very hard to win a war against an opponent you can’t find. When that opponent is a criminal, not a government, it is virtually impossible. Criminals know how to hide. That is one of the things they do best. They are not the German army or a Japanese aircraft carrier. They commit the crime and then they disappear.
If you occupy the country you are invading, they either hide better or move across the border. Certainly, if you don’t catch them by surprise, you will never catch them. It is much easier for an individual to escape than it is for a whole army to pursue them. While there might be certain ways to use military forces covertly to catch such a criminal, an invading force of 100,000 men isn’t it.
You cannot avoid events like 9/11 by invading a country. 9/11 was not launched from Afghanistan. It was an operation where the training by its perpetrators was done in Florida. If the Taliban had not provided safe haven for Bin Laden, he would have hid somewhere else, like Florida or Hamburg. There are no preemptive military strikes against criminals. As helpless as we may feel, the only defense against criminals is detective work. And like the crime itself, detective work is best done with stealth, not invasions.
When the detectives are done with their work, then it is time for the lawyers to prove the case. It is what a nation of laws does. It is our laws and our lawyers that have made America different.
As we look towards the serious issues our government must decide, we must remember that our legal system is what preserves our special place in the world, not our corporate wealth. We American’s must choose to return to a government of laws for the people, by the people, not a government controlled by corporate greed and the preeminence of our Military Industrial complex.
Attorney Gordon Johnson
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice
email@example.com :: 800-992-9447 :: Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.