Monday, March 22, 2010

it's been a long, long journey... way to go, bill

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After more than a half-century of similar proposals and efforts, healthcare reform is one signature away from being, finally, the law of the land. Far from ideal in its current manifestation, the bill is a vast improvement that will have profound benefits in the real lives of so many people who haven't seen much go their way in this society that has, over the last three decades, become increasingly good at kicking people when they're down. We're a long way from being the relatively civilized society that the world's other industrialized democracies are, at least in terms of guaranteeing their citizens care when they get sick but, albeit in the slow pace in which all evolution proceeds, we're on our way. The law is not what I, and many other liberals, wanted. The law is not what makes most sense for most Americans. But it has been kicked around, poked and prodded, grossly misrepresented, used as a proxy for genuinely vile sentiments, and generally mistreated and maligned by the likes of the noisy and obtuse "Tea Partiers," Fox News, the skilled and disturbingly carefree Frank Luntz, the small army of rabid radio and tv personalities on the right, the obscenely powerful insurance companies and their not-so-small army of well-paid lobbyists, and indeed the considerable, and considerably adroit, Republican political machine. And despite the short-sightedness of many, and its own long odds, what only weeks ago looked like a doomed bill, is now just a tiny, and certain, step away from being a law. And a law that would be almost impossible for the right wing to dismantle. Being mishandled, dirtied, and vilified seems to have fortified what looked like a pretty weak contender.

This whole process has reminded me of the Schoolhouse Rock episode, "I'm just a bill...," and this bill was certainly treated at least as badly as the humble little personification in the cartoon. And yet, it made it all the way to becoming, late last night, a soon-and-certain-to-be law, and as imperfect as it is, it has my affection. May it find love and produce single-payer offspring.

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