Sunday, March 28, 2010


Henry Porter writes an interesting opinion piece on Pres. Barack Obama for The Guardian in which he says that Obama's speech to House Democrats on the eve of their historic vote on health care reform will go down as one of the best most-principled speeches in American politics.

Writes Porter:

"These days, when you hear so much from people about what, or who, they are going to vote against, while they complain bitterly that no politicians or set of policies match their particular requirements, it is worth listening to the words Barack Obama used to rally his Democrat troops before the health care vote last week. They represent the highest political endeavour and give the sense of a cause that remains just and noble despite all the compromises he had to make."

Republicans are foaming with anger over the very idea of health care reform, using words such as socialism, disaster, armageddon, budget buster. But Obama sees health care as the most pressing issue because it affects so many people and causes so much distress and misery when a person gets sick but does not have coverage.

Porter quotes from Obama's speech:

""Every once in a while," he said, "a moment comes where you have a chance to vindicate all those best hopes that you had about yourself, about this country, where you have a chance to make good on those promises that you made in all those town meetings and all those constituency breakfasts and all that travelling through the district, all those people who you looked in the eye and you said, you know what, you're right, the system is not working for you and I'm going to make it a little bit better.

"And this is one of those moments. This is one of those times where you can honestly say to yourself, doggone it, this is exactly why I came here. This is why I got into politics. This is why I got into public service… we are not bound to win, but we are bound to be true.""

Health care reform is not some peripheral marginal subject for Obama. It goes to the very identity of the American people, the fabric of American society.

Porter comments:

"What a wonderful phrase that is about vindicating all your best hopes for yourself and the country. This is the finest of political aspirations and as a whole the speech tells you a lot about the tough commitment required from politicians and the public to make democracy work properly today. The speech will bookmark the history of his presidency and do what the proclamation on the emancipation of slaves did for the presidency of Abraham Lincoln in 1862, and the Civil Rights Act for Lyndon Johnson in 1964."

Now the health care reform bill as passed is far from perfect, but it is the first step towards revising and re-creating health care in the U.S. We still need a government-run option offering low-cost plans to those who wish. We need insurance covering Latinos, documented as well as those without proper papers. We need the ability to buy in to Medicare or Medicare for all.

But health care reform as passed by the Congress goes a long way to make health care a right of all Americans, getting rid of the foolish laissez faire idea that it is only a privilege.

1 comment:

  1. I hope that the passage of health care reform is but the beginning of more progress for all Americans. This is my dream.