Listening to the people at the Town Halls shouting about getting their country back, made me realize that I want my country back too. The country that put aside racial bias and fear and elected our first African-American President, Barack Obama. But what I want more than anything is the calm and organized Barack Obama and the campaign that kept its eye on the prize -- winning the Presidency. Now I need Obama to keep us focused on the new prize -- health reform for all.
In the past few weeks, everyone has been freaking out about health reform. The right has suddenly realized that they lost the election, and the Town Halls have given them the opportunity to vent their frustration. Is the hostility we are seeing new? No, I think it was always there, but it went underground and simmered until a "respectable" way surfaced for them to go out and scream and shout and hold up offensive and inaccurate signs about health reform.
But the left is freaking out too. Every word uttered by Obama or his surrogates is analyzed and dissected to prove that he is backing off the public option or health reform. How the public option became the key deal breaker is an issue for another blog, but several folks have attempted to explain this phenomenon. The public option "could" be an important brake on costs, but since we have never tried to do this on the scale being proposed, we don't know that for sure. We "hope" and "think" that the public option will do what is being proposed, but no one knows what might happen in a reformed marketplace. The CBO has "scored" the public option as having the potential to bring down costs, but it it still somewhat of a theoretical issue.
What is NOT theoretical is the need for insurance reform. And for that purpose, there is actually some bipartisan support, not to mention huge support from the American public. If we could only pass insurance reform, I know dozens of people who would benefit from that, and I am sure you do too.
There are some strange ways of characterizing health reform, but one of the most amusing is the "What would Jesus do about health reform"? I would ask Obama supporters to ask a similar question -- "What would Obama do?" WWOD -- It's kind of what he's doing now. Staying calm, focusing on the goal, rolling out his strategy (and this is being written even before his nation wide strategy call Thursday), and having some faith that the process will result in a good outcome for all of us.
I want my country back. I want the focused, goal-oriented, real grass-roots supported, campaign mode for health reform. Remember when you checked out www.538.com twice a day to be sure that the delegate count was really holding up? And whle we all freaked out about this and that issue or state election, as long as we kept our eye on the prize -- number of delegates to nominate -- or number of states to elect -- we could feel a sense of confidence about what would happen.
I think health reform is very similar to the campaign. We are at about Mile 15 of a marathon -- there are a lot more miles to go. There are bills to pass in the House and the Senate. There is the Conference Committee. There are final votes in both Houses. There is reconciliation or filibuster. I truly believe we will pass health reform that is meaningful this year. But I want the Democratic party to have a little patience and a focus on the final product. How about you?