–The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice. MLK Jr.
So, the Healthcare Reform Bill passed the House tonight. I have to be honest in that I had my doubts it would actually pass. I had a friend who told me right after the Senate passed their version that it was all theatre and that the bill would pass in the end (ed. it was before the Senate passed the bill, which makes more sense), but I am a pessimist at heart, so I didn’t want to pay too much heed to his words. In the last few weeks, I have been burnt out on HCR. I mean, there are only so many times I can read about death panels and mandatory abortions and how the government wants to come between me and my doctor before I start honing my rusty pitchfork (seasoned in a time-honored, well-kept secret midnight ritual) and heading out to DC.
I even stopped going to BJ so much because HCR dominated the front page, and it seemed like every thread devolved into the same argument. I didn’t want to deal with it, so I mostly stuck to threads about animals, snow, and the open threads.
Now, I want to say off the bat that I am not a policy wonk. I know the gist of the bill and what it will accomplish, but I cannot quote it chapter and verse–nor do I really see the need for that. I knew it contained a lot of shitty stuff (as all bills do in order to get passed), but I also knew it had some good stuff. The thinking behind passing the bill was that we need to get reform into law first, and then we can strengthen the law once it passes. It’s how the Civil Rights Act was passed, and it’s also how Medicare was enacted as well.
Anyway, I just wanted to get the disclaimer out of the way that this will be a policy-free blog entry.
I tuned into CNN during the waning hours of the debates. What struck me was how fucking stupid the Republicans were. Even the ones who’ve been dubbed their best and brightest–yes, I’m looking at you, Eric Cantor–couldn’t put together a sentence that did not contain a lie. Now, full disclosure, I usually ended up muting the Republicans because I couldn’t deal with their bullshit. However, I heard one Congresswoman talk about how the HCR bill was like a blanket that covers the whole country. Really? That’s the analogy you want to use?
In addition, the Republicans hooted and hollered and booed and hissed throughout the entire proceedings as if they were at a ballgame. I am not one for stiff formalities, but the disrespect they showed the process and their colleagues was astounding. In addition, they are still confusing losing with tyranny (h/t Jon Stewart). As Stewart said, “You lost. It’s supposed to taste like a shit taco.” All this talk about ramming through the bill, blah-di-blah-blah would be so much more impressive if I didn’t remember the last eight years under W. and his posse. Talk about ramming through legislation. I remember anyone who questioned going to war was labeled a traitor. Now, it’s treasonous to support the Islofascist Negro in charge, apparently.
The other thing that has bothered me during the process is how the word socialism was being tossed around. I remember back in the day that being called a liberal was about the worst political epithet someone could hurl your way. That lost its sting in the last few years, so now, socialist has arisen to take its place. Or, even better, socialism combined with Hitler. I don’t know how the two have gotten conflated, but apparently, Obama is both a socialist and a fascist.
I am an actual socialist. A socialist capitalist, to be exact. So, to hear the word socialist being tossed around like it’s something evil really rankles. To me, the basic tenets of socialism as practiced in, oh, just about every other goddamn industrialized country in the world (France is number one in healthcare quality, just FYI, according to WHO, and they spend less money on healthcare than does the US. Which is #37 on the same list, by the way) are sound, humane, and morally right. No person should have to become homeless because she doesn’t have healthcare. No person should have to put off going to the doctor because he cannot afford the visit. In addition, preventative care is better than emergency care. To me, these ideas are pretty much no-brainers. Basic, affordable healthcare for all. If you have money, you can buy the expensive treatments that have one chance in a zillion of working if you so choose, but it’s outrageous to me that the supposed best country in the world would begrudge basic healthcare insurance for all.
There are legitimate questions about healthcare reform–such as, how are we going to pay for it? I would have welcomed debates on the issues, but that was not to be. Instead, the Republicans (and libertarians) focused on scare tactics, rhetoric, and downright lies. What’s more, when they got called out on their lies, they continued to repeat the same goddamn lies over and over again.
As I have said before, I did not get really involved into politics until the most recent election. I mean, I have been a lifelong die-hard Democrat, but I never felt engaged in the process. Now that I’ve immersed myself into it, I realize it’s not for the faint of heart. I also realize that there are many dreadfully stupid people in our Congress. In addition, I realize that we Dems are our own worst enemy. Throughout this whole process, there has been a faction of the Dems who wanted to kill the bill because it wasn’t progressive enough (no public option, for example). Now, while I sympathize with the frustration of the bill (it really is filled with lots of shit), I don’t understand the mentality of kill it now and try again later. Every time HCR has been killed, it’s been untouched for many years. I didn’t see how the lefties could blithely say kill the bill and try again in a year or two.
I have said before that I’ve had to come to grips with the fact that I am not as far left as I thought myself to be. That’s actually not true. I am pretty damn far left as far as what I would wish for our world (single-payer healthcare insurance, for example and coupons for free abortions in the ladies’ room), but the more I watch our Congress at work, the more I realize how fucking hard it is to get anything major accomplished.
When Obama was elected, I wept. When the HCR bill passed the Senate an eon ago, I was ecstatic. Tonight, as Nancy SMASH! (#33, Loneoak) declared the bill had passed, I felt relief. I teared up a bit, but I didn’t have the overwhelming emotional response I had the night of the election. Until I read the header at BJ. Cole figured out how to rotate it, and as soon as the bill passed, he changed it to: Yes we did. I teared up, and I felt the same comity with the BJ folks that I felt for them the night the bill passed the senate and that I felt for the ‘flatters election night. We brokeded BJ for awhile, but once I could get back on (I stayed on during the votes), I saw the outpouring of thanks given to the BJ community (and to Tim F., one of the front-pagers who was a beast in urging people to contact their congresspeople). It really warmed my heart, especially since one person thanked me personally.
This bill is not perfect by far. It is only the first step towards comprehensive healthcare reform. However, it’s a HUGE first step. For tonight, I lift my glass to all who did their bit in order to pass the damn bill. Now, onto the Senate, and then Prez Obama will sign it, and we can move on to passing regulations on the banks and Wall Street! Oh, and Madame Speaker Nancy Pelosi really raised her game for this fight. I raise my glass to her as well. Finally, America has joined the 20th century, lagging far behind the other industrialized countries.
This is the video I am watching right now.
I am substituting, “Yes we did” for “Yes we can”.
P.S. To my prescient friend: You were right. I was…not right.
P.P.S. I have been in a haiku mood today, and I realized that MLK Jr.’s quote fit perfectly!