Wednesday, November 05, 2008

November 5, 2008 - Yes, We Can

“If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.”President-Elect Barack Obama, November 4, 2008

Last night, our world changed. The election of Barack Obama as President is far more than merely politics-as-usual. Even John McCain seemed to acknowledge that truth in his gracious concession speech. Americans proved last night that we are hungry for change – real, substantive change – and the rest of the world is right there with us.

Last night, I sat and watched CNN’s coverage of the election, from the very first results until the milestone moment just after the West Coast polls closed at 11 p.m., when all the networks acknowledged Obama as the winner. The CNN broadcast was punctuated by repeated (and, surely, very costly) commercials from DividedWeFail.org, an organization committed to health-care funding reform.

Here’s one:



The family profiled in the video had insurance. It wasn’t enough. When this man’s wife contracted brain cancer, it started them on a downward slide that led to bankruptcy.

Another of these commercials told the story of a twentysomething young man who also had to declare bankruptcy, after going into the hospital for emergency surgery. He, too, had medical insurance – but, he said, it turned out to be more like a supermarket cents-off coupon than real coverage.

Who is DividedWeFail.org? Some radical fringe group? Some shadowy cabal of socialists?

No way. They’re AARP!

Yes, AARP. The senior citizens’ lobby. They’ve taken on health-insurance reform with a vengeance. They paid big bucks to wallpaper the election-night newscast with commercials – on a night when it was obviously too late to influence the vote’s outcome – because they know the campaign for Americans’ hearts and minds on this issue is not over. It’s barely begun.

One piece of good news I, personally, take away from this election is that the desire for universal health care (or something very close to it) has become so mainstream in America, that we’re finally going to see some change. Blind faith that mysterious “market forces” will magically solve America’s problems is dead. “Voodoo economics” – as former President George H.W. Bush sensibly called this ruinous ideology, before changing his stripes to become Ronald Reagan’s vice president – has been repudiated, at long last.

Now, we can join the rest of the developed world in building a health-care funding system that serves clients, rather than stockholders. We can eliminate that hugely inefficient layer of middle-management that’s been slurping up so many of our health-care dollars, and apply that money to providing real medical care – and saving real, human lives.

It’s going to be a long journey from here to there. Barack’s got a hugely imposing set of challenges before him. Somehow, he and his team have got to convince everyone involved in delivering medical services – from Big Pharma to the A.M.A. to hospital administrators – that they can not only survive, but flourish in a system that guarantees health care for all.

It can be done. All the other industrialized nations of the world now have such a system. As the Johnny-come-lately, we have the advantage of being able to study the successes and failures of other nations. Then, we can apply good, old-fashioned American inventiveness and ingenuity to devise a system that’s the best in the world.

We can do it. Yes, we can.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

A confession....I voted for barack obama and even I had a mind stretching revelatory moment last night....seeing him before those crowds and saying to myself several times "He is our next president...there is the next president...that man standing there...he is the next president." I never realized how little connection in my mind existed between the concepts of "black american" and "president of the united states."

It's like going from flat earth to round earth. It's a shift in perception, in identity; a paradigm shift.

We can change health care...yes, we can.

wanda

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Congratulations to Senator Obama!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations to President Obama!

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