05/21/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

U.S. Enters Twentieth Century!

"You live in an uncivilized country," an Australian physician said to me in Melbourne in 2003. It was at the time that the Abu Ghraib affair was in the news, and I assumed that was the reason for his charge.

"Why do you say that?" I asked.

"Because your nation doesn't provide health care for its citizens," he explained.

I had to agree with him.

Tonight, at long last, the United States is taking a first, small, but important, step toward joining the civilized world.

Tonight, over the howls of the regressives, our country joins the twentieth century. Let us now work to move quickly into the twenty-first.

The reform will become very popular and the opposition of the Party of No will blow up in their faces.

Historian Robert S. McElvaine is Elizabeth Chisholm Professor of Arts & Letters at Millsaps College. A 25th anniversary edition of his classic book, The Great Depression: America, 1929-1941, with a comprehensive new introduction comparing circumstances then and now, has just been published by Three Rivers Press, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group.