For what seems an eternity, I have been obsessed with the struggle to reform health care, following the death and resurrection of the public option, anguishing over Joe Lieberman's threatened defection, second guessing the strategy of the Obama White House. In the background has been the constant drumbeat of hysterical warnings from the Republicans that passage of the bill will destroy American democracy, ensconce Hitlerian policies in American law, and bring the Republic to an end.
Today, I have been spending a good deal of time watching the proceedings in the House of Representatives, listening to speakers from both sides echo talking points long since reduced to bumper sticker slogans. And slowly, very slowly, it has been dawning on me that the Republicans are right! This IS an historic bill. It WILL fundamentally change what goes on in the United States. It IS an expansion of the federal role in the life of the country surpassed perhaps only by the militarization of America over the past half century.
The Republicans are right to be desperately fearful. This bill, if something very like it can get through the Senate, will alter the lives of countless Americans, just as did Social Security and Medicare. And their united opposition to it will be an albatross around their necks for a long time to come. One of the many clauses in the bill stands out in my mind for its revolutionary impact: No longer will insurance companies be able to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions. That change alone is worth all the sturm und drang.
We have been waiting for this since I was in elementary school, sixty-five years ago, and now, it very much appears, it is going to happen. When we take the measure of Barack Obama's first year, let us remember to place this accomplishment in a place of honor.