Let’s finish the job and “do what’s right”

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

I am old enough to remember the Dixiecrat filibuster attempts to defeat the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The protestations of those who claimed it was social engineering and socialism, that it was against the natural order of God's law to "mongrelize" the races and that it would lead to the destruction of American society to end segregation and to treat all Americans equally under the law without regard to race, national origin, creed or sex. The voices of ignorance and hatred fomented fear and divided the nation between those who believed they were entitled to a privileged status in society, and those who were to forever be subjugated by this privileged class due only to an accident of birth — not being born into a white Christian family.

America was forced to look into the mirror and to confront the morality of its ugly history with institutional slavery and institutional segregation. Leaders like President Lyndon Johnson and Vice President Hubert Humphrey and civil rights leaders like the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. called upon "the better angels of our nature" as Abraham Lincoln said, to "live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.'" It was a test of the moral character of our country. Americans looked into their hearts and decided to do what was morally right.

Today we stand on the precipice of another "profiles in courage" moment in American history. It is almost a century since Theodore Roosevelt and his Progressive Party (aka Bull Moose Party) first proposed national health insurance in 1912. Franklin Roosevelt proposed an "Economic Bill of Rights" that included "The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health." Harry Truman proposed a national health care program. Truman Library – November 19, 1945: Truman Proposes Health Program.

Then, as now, the opponents of Truman's national health care program launched a spirited attack against the bill, capitalizing on fears of Communism in the public mind. The AMA characterized the bill as "socialized medicine," and called Truman White House staffers "followers of the Moscow party line." Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and FAUX News are singing from an old hymnal.

The voices of ignorance and hatred are strong and are fomenting fear and dividing the nation between those who believe they are entitled to a privileged economic status in society, and those who are to forever live in the shadows and be left to die due only to an accident of birth or life circumstance — economic status or suffering from a "preexisting medical condition" that some faceless, nameless actuarial at a health insurance company can use to deny coverage of a claim or to deny insurance altogether in the name of making a profit to pay dividends to shareholders.

One's economic status or health status should not condemn one to a lifetime of pain and suffering or a death sentence. Losing one's health insurance coverage, or the denial of health insurance coverage, should not result in a bankruptcy that wipes out a lifetime of hard work and savings that leaves one destitute.

Access to affordable health care is a fundamental human right. It is the civil rights movement of our era. And it is a moral issue deeply rooted in the teachings of Christianity and all other religious faiths. This is a test of the moral character of our country. It is time once again for Americans to look into their hearts and decide to do what is morally right.

On Friday, President Obama found his moral voice in making a forceful closing argument to Congress to pass health care reform legislation. Let's finish the job and "do what's right."

Read the transcript Remarks by the President on Health Insurance Reform in Fairfax, Virginia (excerpt):

THE PRESIDENT: A few miles from here, Congress is in the final stages of a fateful debate about the future of health insurance in America. (Applause.) It’s a debate that’s raged not just for the past year but for the past century. One thing when you’re in the White House, you’ve got a lot of history books around you. (Laughter.) And so I’ve been reading up on the history here. Teddy Roosevelt, Republican, was the first to advocate that everybody get health care in this country. (Applause.) Every decade since, we’ve had Presidents, Republicans and Democrats, from Harry Truman to Richard Nixon to JFK to Lyndon Johnson to — every single President has said we need to fix this system. It’s a debate that’s not only about the cost of health care, not just about what we’re doing about folks who aren’t getting a fair shake from their insurance companies. It’s a debate about the character of our country -– (applause) — about whether we can still meet the challenges of our time; whether we still have the guts and the courage to give every citizen, not just some, the chance to reach their dreams. (Applause.)

At the heart of this debate is the question of whether we’re going to accept a system that works better for the insurance companies than it does for the American people — (applause) — because if this vote fails, the insurance industry will continue to run amok. They will continue to deny people coverage. They will continue to deny people care. They will continue to jack up premiums 40 or 50 or 60 percent as they have in the last few weeks without any accountability whatsoever. They know this. And that’s why their lobbyists are stalking the halls of Congress as we speak, and pouring millions of dollars into negative ads. And that’s why they are doing everything they can to kill this bill.

So the only question left is this: Are we going to let the special interests win once again?


THE PRESIDENT: Or are we going to make this vote a victory for the American people? (Applause.)

AUDIENCE: Yes we can! Yes we can!

0 responses to “Let’s finish the job and “do what’s right”

  1. More taxing, more borrowing, more regulating and more spending.

    I wonder if this legislation will make health care as affordable as government subsidies have made college education.

  2. Francine Shacter

    I was privileged to watch from a Congressional subcommittee office the whole, entire fight for the Civil Rights Act of 1964. As a lowly clerk, I typed many drafts. I held my breath the whole time, until the final vote was taken. I think that’s why I feel so lucky to have lived to see Barack Obama elected President of the United States! And I’m so proud to be a member of the Democratic Party – the party which refused to seat a Black delegation at a national Democratic convention but went on to nominate and elect a Black person president! That is truly a journey to be proud of!!