We use to play "kick the can" back in Clawson, Michigan, a small rural town north of Detroit. Of course, when someone kicked the proverbial can, they shouted, "Kick the Can." We kids scattered everywhere searching for a safe place to hide. There is not a more appropriate analogy for our current government's response to health care reform than this childhood game.
As the president alluded to in his speech, politicians have been kicking that can for generations to delay reform. It is time to stop. One hopes that our elected officials are adults (most of them). They are elected, paid generously and their job is to run our government effectively, not romp across the grass playing tag.
The breakdown of the health care system in the United States has become a historic opportunity. History is knocking on every door, crawling through every window, walking through every homeless encampment: one collective gulp waiting for our leaders to find the courage to breathe in change.
I listened to President Obama's heartfelt speech last night. It hit me deeply. I wasn't expecting to be moved, but for me, a person who has struggled with tremendous illness and a health insurance company that would probably support me more if I was dead, was near tears. I know first hand how hard it is to battle serious illness and deal with an Insurance company. I have also watched as my 82-year-old mother struggles to survive financially while her medical bills for cancer have become a financial burden.
The last two days, I have argued with a dealership and General Motors for a loan on her new leased car. Her track record with GMAC and leasing cars has been unimpeachable. In those 12 years, she has never missed or been late on a payment. Ever. Today I was told that she would not be provided with a loan to get her car. Her credit had gotten worse. This credit shift was due to the avalanche of medical bills from her cancer. I spoke with the finance manager at the dealer, who told me that my mother was less of a risk for him than someone with a top notch credit score, but the rules were generated by General Motors, and the banks, since the bailout, have been "sitting on the money."
Imagine losing your health and your independence all at once. Her story and many like hers play out every day all over America. For some people this health care debate and potential reform is already too late. Broken homes, broken lives, buried loved ones.
For an average citizen it is hard to sift through the lies and the posturing of D.C. to figure out what's true or false. Washington has made a mockery of the meaning of the word "fact." Just when I thought we had sunk to the lowest level, I was wrong. Walter Cronkite's a man who always looked for the facts. His death could not be more poignant at this time in our history.
I was disappointed in President Obama's audience for the speech most of all. The people in that room run our country. It seems that these individuals have lost a sense of dignity and respect for each other as civil servants. Isn't that an oxymoron with the word civil in there? In fact the Representative Joe Wilson from North Carolina who heckled the president should be reprimanded. Not because he had a differing opinion, but how he choose to share that opinion, and what message he continued to foster in the chambers. Shameful.
Partisan Politics has poisoned our country. It has seeped into our backbone and eats away at the spine of our country. For me, when our President said, "The time for bickering is over, the time for games has passed. I will not accept the status quote, not this time, not now. When he said those words, I stood up and cheered in my own living room.
We need affordable health care for all. We must make insurance companies responsible for providing coverage to all without pre-existing conditions and the canceling of policies when illness strikes. We need more than good speeches and scare tactics. We need healthy debate and creative, effective health care reform. Period. Forgive me, but Congress needs to develop some gonads.
As Washington continues to kick the can and avoid the hard decisions we have elected them to do, broadcasters continue to reinforce and fuel the partisanship. He Said, She said, as I ignore the continued squabbling, I was struck by the sea of middle-aged angry white "good old boys" wearing grim faces and looks of constipation unmoved by the president's impassioned plea. I thought, "How out of touch they are with us, how arrogant they seemed". The President said, "We can still do what the American People sent us here to do". I choke on my own cynicism.
I hear the rumble of the can as a child's forceful kick sends it tumbling over the curb and down into the sewer... This is where I would like to send all of our elected officials, right behind that tumbling can. Anyone else?
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