For this writer the recent election in Massachusetts stirred up a lot of feelings that the election’s results have tempered a bit. I wrote this piece two days before the vote in Massachusetts that filled Senator Kennedy’s seat. The result was an upset of momentous significance politicos are still interpreting. But the election was not my issue. The health-care reform bill was — the fate of which, it was said, hung on the outcome of the voters’ decision in that state.
As the election drew closer I became aware of feelings that had been churning inside me for weeks about the bill’s process toward ratification. I discovered I need a voice, or a very loud whistle, with which to say, “Stop!” and, more critically, to be heard; a voice from a yet-to-be-known patriot bold enough to confront our government with its politics and posturings that are more about self-serving power than the American people themselves. PACs and the vested interests on Capitol Hill seem to have far more to say about the particulars of the bill than the people themselves. And what they, the few, seem to be after is more about party and ego than the interests of their constituents. The process has not been pretty — and certainly not reassuring.
At the risk of seeming naïve, am I wrong in feeling that the importance of this particular bill should demand a very large and clear bipartisan stamp of approval? Where is the voice courageous enough to tell us that? To challenge the Americans we have elected to Congress to focus on the needs of all the people, to get them to realize that health care is a matter of justice as well as a basic human need? Are not our elected representatives and Senators intelligent enough to carve something out of their collective wisdom and responsibilities that most everyone can live with, even without total agreement?
Where is the voice that will be heard when it says, “Stop with the politics, already! Let’s take better care of ourselves –- all of us — and be fair or at least reasonable about it.” Despite the current economy, there is something grossly obscene about any one of our citizens in time of need going without medical care. Maybe the voice, if it finds both opportunity and presence to say so, can call out for a compassionate society to take care of its own, as well as those who share our hospitality.
A great deal of work has already been done, but as far as I am concerned, it feels half-done as long as the bill is so blatantly unilateral and shamefully political. What is so impossible about bilateral? Time may be of the essence, but the essence of our country is all of us. Who is there among the powers that be that has and will use a voice to wake us up to the price we may all be paying for a “political victor” instead of a health-care plan that beats with an American heart and evidences a compassionate commitment to justice and human need from which an entire world can learn?
It has to be worth the time to get it right; and it will be right when it speaks for all of us. Will someone in Washington, or wherever, tell us that?