I'm trying to figure out what's wrong with me. My new senator, Scott Brown, and his Republican colleagues are telling us that "the American people are angry" about the new health care reform legislation. But even though I am an American born and bred, I'm not angry, and I am trying to figure out what's wrong with me.
Should I be angry that, now, 32 million previously uninsured Americans will be able to get affordable, comprehensive insurance?
Should I be angry that those folks will now have access to modern medical services early in the course of their illness when it will do the most good?
Should I be angry that they will not get as sick as they do now? And that they will not need to use expensive hospital emergency rooms so much anymore?
Should I be angry that now more Americans will have the capacity to develop ongoing relationships with primary care physicians instead of showing up in an emergency room when they can no longer avoid needed care?
Should I be angry that we have a chance in the U. S. now to catch up with the much better health statistics common to most other developed countries - all of which have universal coverage?
Should I be angry that now we have a shot at keeping per capita health care spending rates under control, maybe even approaching the low rates of some of those same countries that already cover all their citizens and get more value for their spending?
Should I be angry that private health insurers will no longer be able to deny coverage to people because of pre-existing conditions?
Or to cancel coverage of people who get sick and need care?
Or to fail to renew coverage for people who, because of illness, actually had to use their health insurance benefits?
Or that employees of small businesses will now be able to get affordable coverage without paying the very high rates associated with small risk pools?
Or, having been schooled in the validity of majority rule, that the Democrats figured out a way to enact this reform with a majority instead of the 3/5 that has become standard procedure in the Senate?
Or, believing that people tend to learn from their mistakes when given another chance, that today's Republicans, most of whose Congressional ancestors voted against Social Security in the 1930s and Medicare in the 1960s, have still not learned to get on the right side of history?
The fact is none of those things makes me angry. So, maybe I am just out of step with the rest of the American people - or at least the ones that Scott Brown and his colleagues are talking to.
I do know one thing that will make me angry. And that is that now that they have passed this historic legislation we so badly need - even though more work remains to be done - I will be angry if the Democrats fail to defend with conviction and enthusiasm their historic achievement. And anyone who doubts the magnitude of the accomplishment should recall that although efforts to reform the health care system have been made regularly from the 1930s onward, before now only Lyndon Johnson has even been able to get the two houses to vote on a bill. The result of his effort was Medicare. It has taken a long time to take this next step. Surely the bill's Congressional supporters, all of whom are Democrats, can persuade their constituents that they did the right thing!