I have a dream. In the dream an idealistic young community organizer from the South Side of Chicago gets elected President of the most powerful nation on earth and sets out to right ancient wrongs, lift up the weak and downtrodden, and shame selfish slugs into giving up some of their ill-gotten gains to help the millions of Americans who can’t get health insurance.
In the dream, the crusading community organizer addresses both houses of Congress and so mesmerizes the world-weary politicians that they forget the bribes they’ve taken from health care profiteers and decide to stand up and be counted. Not all of the representatives in Congress are corrupt. And many that are now compromised were once motivated by a desire to work for the common good. That’s why they got into politics in the first place. In my dream the inspired community organizer finds the words to ignite the embers of decency still smoldering in their sodden souls. They rally to the cause of fairness and justice, and pass real health care reform. The forces of evil are routed, and a grateful nation rejoices…
We shall see tonight whether that dream will come true. I wish I were still young enough to believe it will. But I fear the man who addresses Congress tonight will be the “consensus building” pragmatist who has occupied the White House for the past eight months. And, as Scott Galindez argues in “Truthout” today, that would be an unmitigated disaster. The result of such an approach would be a watered down health care bill that enriches the private providers and insurers at the expense of the taxpaying public.
It would include no “public option,” and insurance companies would continue to ration health care with deadly results. Insurance executives would continue to put profit ahead of the public interest. And an obscene share of health insurance premiums would go to salaries, bonuses, shareholder dividends, advertising and lobbying instead of patient care. Perhaps the profiteers would compromise by eliminating the dreaded “pre-existing condition” and other disqualifying technicalities (such as “wrong body type”) in exchange for a mandate making everyone buy insurance. But don’t even count on that.
Tonight we shall see which Barack Obama shows up. But even if the one in my dream magically appears, it may be too late. The profiteers have poured so many millions into so many campaign coffers – in both parties – and so many more millions into public relations campaigns to agitate public distrust and fear of “Socialism” that it may be impossible to turn the tide.
In America you can buy anything – body organs, a Russian wife, a Romanian baby, an acquittal in court… And it looks as if the health care industry has bought an extension of its license to plunder and cheat.