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Peaceful Revolution: What Would MLK Say About the Upset in Massachusetts?

03/26/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

This week, the immortal words of Martin Luther King Jr. have a particular resonance for many people who have been fighting for health care reform, "In this Revolution, no plans have been written for retreat."

The victory of Scott Brown in Massachusetts on Tuesday, an opponent of the health care reform bill, for the open U.S. Senate seat leaves the fate of health care reform uncertain. But while the politics of the debate have changed, the needs of real people for health care have not.

As Senator Reid said, "The Massachusetts election didn't change the fact that 14,000 people are losing their health care every day. We can't put politics over people. When it comes to the need for good, affordable health care in America, nothing has changed and that is why we must move forward."

Health care reform is not about Democrats or Republicans, but about the real people who are struggling every day to find or keep health insurance for themselves and their families.

It's about Jamie in Mississippi whose husband struggled to decide whether or not to go to the ER when he thought he was having a heart attack for fear of having to pay their $500 deductible plus co-pay.

It's about Lakresha in Arkansas whose first concern when opening a family business was how to get and pay for health care coverage after being told she was uninsurable due to heart surgery she had at age 3, more than three decades ago.

And health care reform is about Renee in Ohio who can not find an insurance company that will cover her family because her 5-year-old son has hydrocephalus and requires a shunt that drains fluid from his brain down to his belly.

Voters clearly have good reason to be frustrated by Washington's failure to deliver. But let our political leaders learn the right lesson from that frustration. A Massachusetts election day poll demonstrates that the lesson of Scott Brown's victory is that voters want more change, not less:

  • 82% of Obama supporters who voted for Brown support the public option, as do 86% of Obama voters who stayed home.
  • 57% of Obama voters who stayed home on Tuesday support the Senate health care bill or think it doesn't go far enough.
  • And of Obama voters who cast a ballot for Brown, nearly half (49%) support the Senate bill or think it does not go far enough. Just 11% think it goes too far.

MomsRising members are joining millions of other Americans across the country to tell their members of Congress to be strong and remember the real people who are counting on their leadership.

There are moments in history that are bigger than any one election or legislative battle, and this is one of those moments. Which side will Congress be on? We can't let health care reform be turned into a political football while millions of Americans remain without health care coverage. We've come too far to let Congress retreat. We must keep moving forward to achieve comprehensive health care reform.


A Peaceful Revolution is a blog about innovative ideas to strengthen America's families through public policies, business practices, and cultural change. Done in collaboration with MomsRising.org, read a new post here each week.