This Is What Change Looks Like

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed the health care reform bill at a vote of 219 in favor and 212 opposed. More on that in a minute.  It was a tense night for me.  Even my teenagers were watching the last few hours with me. For me, well, I was glued to C-Span pretty much all day long.  I have huge personal stake in the passage of this bill, as do my whole family.  We all have pre-existing conditions.  We’ve all been screwed by our insurance company, and my policy expires at the end of this month, which is a scant nine days from today.  Read yesterday’s entry if you already haven’t.  I won’t rehash all of that here.

While watching the debates yesterday, I saw one common theme.  Both sides were complaining.  The Republicans were complaining about the money.  Without fail, every singe one of them who made a statement brought it back around to the money.  The Democrats were complaining about the health and welfare of real, living human beings and almost all of them stated that we can’t afford not to pass this bill.  What does that tell you?  How else can you interpret the fact that in spite of real, non-partisan data that clearly shows this to be a budget cutting bill, the minority can still stand there and only give one side of the story.

Look at it this way.  You live in an outlying area and have to commute to work on two buses, a train and a taxi ride to your office.  This is costing you, say, $5000.00 a year in transportation costs.  You’re neighbor decides to sell you his car, which is in excellent working order, for $2000.00.  You do the cost analysis and figure it will cost you another $2000 in fuel and maintenance.  Wow, you just saved $1000 by spending $2000.  Then you get someone who is telling you not to do it because you can’t afford the $2000.  Even though you explain the logic to them, they still don’t get it.  You tell them that you made a deal with the gas station that you are going to use and that they are going to lend you the money for the initial purchase and they are going to add an extra few pennies per gallon over the year which will cover the initial cost.  Then that person accuses you of making back room deals.  You just want to scream at their ignorance.

It’s the same thing with this health care reform bill.  When you take the amount that is saved and subtract the amount that is spent, you come up with a surplus.  It’s basic, elementary school math.  But math that has a remainder, and that remainder is near universal health care.  It is the absence of fear of being dropped because you had the audacity to get sick.  The absence of fear that you will not be able to get health insurance because you have a pre-existing condition. The absence of fear that you will not see a ginormous rate hike because you actually dared to use your coverage.  The list goes on and on.

The Republicans called this a partisan effort, and squawked about being left out.  The reconciliation bill, however, contains over 200 Republican amendments to the health care reform bill that they approved of.  Look, I understand politics and I understand that there is going to be a certain amount of staging for the next election, particularly amongst the party that lost their bid.  But what is going on here is disgraceful.  The Republicans are not saying no to everything because they have a deep felt conscience about the issues.  They are pissed off that they lost and they are trying to make sure that the current administration gets nothing accomplished so that when the next round of elections come up, especially the Presidential election, they can tout that nothing was done, no changes were made, the decision to let Democrats run things was a bad one and that they lied to us. Well, it didn’t work.  It did not work now, it did not work with Social Security, Medicaid or Civil Rights.

A word about Civil Rights…

I live in Alabama and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King is pretty important around here.  He championed the cause of equal rights for everyone.  Most people either know about, remember or maybe were even there on Sunday, March 21, 1965 when marchers, led by Dr. King, set out for Montgomery from Selma, Alabama.   Selma, Alabama, is in the Seventh Congressional District and is represented by Artur Davis.  Montgomery is in the Second Congressional District, represented by Bobby Bright.  These two Alabama districts are represented by the only two Democrats in the House. It is a slap in the face not only to the legacy of Dr. King, but to the overwhelmingly poor, African American residents in these districts who would be helped that both of these Democratic Congressmen voted No to health care reform.  Even more inexplicable is the fact that Artur Davis is an African American.  Of course, Artur Davis has ambitions to becoming Alabama’s first African American Governor, and in a deeply red state, it is clear that he is trying to stay on the good side of the incumbent Republicans by completely selling out his heritage.

But I digress…

As Obama said in his speech last night, “Congress finally declared that America’s workers and America’s families and America’s small businesses deserve the security of knowing that here, in this country, neither illness nor accident should endanger the dreams they’ve worked a lifetime to achieve.”

Having been one of those Americans who lost everything I worked for due to an illness I did nothing to cause, I am especially proud of our country for passing this bill, and I know that it was the right thing to do, at the right time and for the right reasons. It truly was a victory for the American people and a victory for common sense.

So, today as I scan the headlines and begin to read the chicken-little cries from people like Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and the rest of the right wing nut jobs, including Pat Robertson and the Televangelists crowd who will undoubtedly make statements to the effect that the country has been ruined, that the Democrats are all a bunch of communist socialists and that God has been personally kicked in the balls and we are going to end up like Russia or Sodom and Gomorrah.  Well, let them all rant and rave and turn red in the face and shed crocodile tears.  Personally, I don’t give a flying fuck through a rolling doughnut, because I can sit back knowing that this is just one more “yes we can” that had been changed into a “yes we did”.

And we sure as hell did.  We made a statement we will do the right thing for this country in spite of how much people try to scare us, lie to us, distort facts and figures, throw utterly ridiculous claims that we are going to be punished by god or any one of the literally hundreds of irresponsible and unfounded claims made by the Republicans, Tea Partiers or the just plain willfully ignorant.  They refuse to actually do the math and find out for themselves, but spew out talking points they got from a printout they downloaded from Faux News and it’s bevy of conservative slanderers.

I am proud of my country and of all of the members of congress who chose to take a stand for a step in the right direction.  There is still work to be done, but the hurdle has been jumped and we are on our way to realizing a dream that started over one-hundred years ago with Teddy Roosevelt (who was a Republican) who stated:

“The supreme duty of the Nation is the conservation of human resources through an enlightened measure of social and industrial justice. We pledge ourselves to work unceasingly in State and Nation for … the protection of home life against the hazards of sickness, irregular employment and old age through the adoption of a system of social insurance adapted to American use.”

Or, if you are one of the faithful believers who follow Glenn Beck (I always throw up a little in my mouth when I type his name) you can look at his view on Social Justice, and I quote, “Social justice and economic justice are code words for Communism and Nazism”

I will close with my sincere and heartfelt thanks that I was alive to witness something that I had never thought I would see in my lifetime, and for the company of my children who sat and watched with me as I saw history being made, as well as for the responsible members of our government, our mighty republic, to make the right choice and pass this landmark legislation that puts the health and well being of our citizens as a priority and recognizes health care as not a privilege, but the civil right that it is.

  4 comments for “This Is What Change Looks Like

  1. Gimpy
    March 22, 2010 at 10:45 am

    Can I have permission to repost, with link included of course

    • March 22, 2010 at 11:40 am

      Yes, you may, Gimpy, and thank you for doing so.

  2. Agamemnon
    March 22, 2010 at 2:03 pm

    Excellent commentary, Al!

  3. Jake
    April 7, 2010 at 3:53 pm

    I echo both the thrust and the sentiment underscoring this article. I’d say more, but the article says it sufficiently.

    Thumbs up to you, Alstefanelli.

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