Who can imagine what the Founding Fathers were thinking? My own guess is that they did not trust human nature, that they set up the American system of government to guard against our inherent frailty. But for whatever reason, they created a Rube Goldberg machine that only a president like Barack Obama could manipulate effectively enough to produce health care reform.
My simple mind boggles at the complexity of the reform legislation. To me, the simple answer would have been expansion of Medicare and Medicaid to provide an affordable alternative to the confusing and abusive health insurance industry. But simple logic doesn’t cut it in the American system. Too many conflicting interests have to be reconciled to get anything done.
Like all organic creations, the industry has grown this way and that, driven by need and greed. Dealing with it is like pruning a rank bouganvillia bush. It has become one of the most expensive and incompetent health care systems in the world, driving millions of Americans into bankruptcy and leaving millions more to die for lack of the money to buy insurance – or lack of regulations to ensure that the insurance companies meet their obligations.
Democratic presidents have been trying for decades to provide universal health care for Americans. But it took Obama to get it done.
This president does not have a simple mind. He deals in nuanaces and subtleties, what-ifs and better-nots. He has the patience and the guile to sort through the tangle of special interests that had to be placated and come up with “a little something” for everybody concerned.
After all that, he thought he had a deal. He thought the Republicans would go along, he thought the industry would go along, and he thought the craven Blue Dogs in his own party would go along. And, as a constitutional law professor, he contrived a package to fit the constraints of the Constitution.
If you have the fortitude to slog through all those pages, you will find a law that resembles a bushel of crabs in a sack, each crab trying to go its own way, with the end result that the sack shuffes along some sort of way. Only the genius of an Obama could work it out so that the sack moves in the desired direction.
The legislationis full of compromises, loaded with ideas that originated with the Republicans, and offering a windfall to the health insurance industry by mandating that everyone must buy their product – or else.
Disappointingly, after seeming to go along with the deal, the industry – fronted by the Republicans in their pocket – double-crossed the president, stirring up a mindless mob with lies about death panels, deficits and other dire fantasies.
Despite the intricate checks and balances… Despite the greed and treachery of a rapacious industry and the cunning of knaves who twisted the facts to incite a pack of fools… Despite the handicap of a Democratic Party infested by Blue Dogs with starkly conflicting political ideals… Despite all of the above… Obamacare is alive and well today.
The most conservative Supreme Court in America’s history has declared it legal – as the constitutional law professor in the White House bet it would.
It is a landmark victory not only for the president but also for the people.
The process is underway, the healing has begun. Within a few years, America will join the rest of the developed world in providing affordable health care for all, old and young, sick and well, adults and children, rich and poor.
Future generations will thank their lucky stars that a president named Barack Obama had the perseverance and the smarts to work through the convoluted system of government that the Founding Fathers devised.