Sunday, March 21, 2010

Witness to History

Finally. Health care. It’s all over but the shouting.

I would be lying if I claimed my elation over HRC’s passage is entirely altruistic. But, in fact, my happiness and relief is three-fold.

First, it’s political. Obama and the Dems needed this victory badly. It’s hard to describe how much the political situation and outlook affect my everyday demeanor and mental well-being. I take it very, very seriously and feel it very deeply. Maybe it’s from having lived it and personally witnessing it and being directly impacted by the very best and the very worst that this beautiful but sometimes fucked up system has to offer.

Second, it’s personal. I stand to directly benefit from reform. Right now I am lucky to have, for at least one year, a sweet Cadillac plan from SAG. But the chances of my maintaining my eligibility into next year are slim-to-fair. So if I should find myself back in the market for individual coverage, it SHOULD be harder for providers to deny me based on pre-existing conditions. Of course, I’m no dummy, so I don’t doubt the insurance companies will work hard to find loopholes and worm their way out of these new obligations. But that’s a fight that I think will be much easier to win, if it comes to that.

Third, if this legislation helps me, it will undoubtedly help millions of others in a similar situation, to say nothing of countless millions of others who are far worse off.

No, this is far from a perfect solution. But it’s a beginning. And it’s about as much, if not more, than could ever be expected in the current environment. Give it to Obama for his tenacity. And Pelosi. In the face of hundreds of setbacks, they just kept on plowing forward.

And now perhaps the media will find a new group-think narrative to tell. Instead of “Obama on the Ropes” it’ll be the “Comeback Kid.” (And as I predicted a while back, I’m betting they’ll call Obama’s first Q&A with the Republican caucus the turning point.)

I also have to say, as distressing as the distortions and misinformation have been over the past year, it’s sweet to see the tables turned with the emphasis over the past 24 hours on a few teabaggers’ racial and homophobic slurs. I don’t doubt that those people represent a small percentage of the actual movement (though I also don’t doubt that their views are shared, if not publicly expressed, by a much larger number of them), but it’s absolutely wonderful to watch them all get smeared for the behavior of a few.

Because that’s me – I am a knee-jerk, partisan, yellow-dog Democratic hack. And proud of it. And proud of my party. If this turns out as hoped, we may have witnessed a pivotal moment in our country’s history, and people 30 or 40 years from now will be incredulous that there was even a moment’s debate over the notion that healthcare is a right, not a privilege.

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