As the calendar moves towards the end of 2009, we should take a step back and marvel at what the new administration has been able to accomplish. Yes, I know this seems daunting at times, but we should remember that change always comes slowly. I was playing with my IPhone on vacation and came up on two new applications I had to download. Apple was offering the Federalist Papers and Common Sense for free. I just couldn't pass that up.
I was reminded of the famous line that James Madison uttered in Federalist Paper #10. "Ambition must be made to counteract ambition." When we look at health care reform we should take note at where it has been over the last sixty years. We are the cusp of seeing health care reform pass both houses for the first time in U.S. history. Naturally, everyone here knows that even if that day comes there will be no guarantees. We all remember that School House Rocks video of how a bill becomes law. At least some of us do anyway.
Still, I couldn't help but go back to that Madison quote. You see, ambition never actually counteracts ambition. At least it doesn't in an equal way. Those that oppose any measure are almost always more powerful than those that support it. After all, there can be any number of reasons to oppose something and only one reason to support it. Congressional Republicans oppose health care reform because well, they oppose anything Obama does. The health insurance industry opposes it because it will mess up their nest egg. Then, you have some in the general public that oppose it because it sounds like an awesome amount of change and they are afraid the ship is going to sail right off the end of the horizon. Combine those forces together and you get quite a force.
When you complain about things moving to slowly just imagine if Sarah Palin and Michelle Bauchman were in charge. Wouldn't you want some barriers to legislation in that environment? So, despite all of that, Obama is on the brink of tackling two of the biggest mountains in pundit land. If he tackles health care reform and cap and trade then he should go right out and buy a lottery ticket. The odds are probably just about the same. Then again, go after campaign finance reform and go out a hero.
Sometimes, it seems self-defeating to even carry around a document titled Common Sense. However, when I get down I always remember how difficult it is to pass landmark legislation. The Civil Rights Act took about a decade to pass after Brown V. Board of Education. Strom Thurmond filibustered it for about a day on his own. If you can imagine someone being so against civil rights that he would blather on for a day then it isn't so hard to imagine people being against health care reform.
When these long held beliefs are based on well-reasoned ideals then the push and pull game isn't so bad. It is when these beliefs are based on prejudice and misinformation that we lose our resolve and begin to hang our head. Life's tough you know. However, we can take solace in the fact that health care reform has made it further than it ever has. That's something right?