Sen. Max Baucus said the public option offered a great opportunity to “hold insurance companies’ feet to the fire”. Then he voted against two amendments that included the public option. Doesn’t make much sense, does it? Well it seems in the political world it does. Apparently, because Sen. Baucus doesn’t believe the Senate has 60 votes to pass a health care reform bill, he is not supporting the bill either. Of course, we don’t yet know how much support a heath care reform bill with a public option would have, but in order to get to 60 votes, Sen. Baucus’s support would be essential. Without his support, it is a virtual certainty that the bill will not get the desired 60 votes.
This is not the first time that a politician, or the electorate, has refused to back a bill or a candidate because they did not think there was enough support for the bill to pass or candidate to win. But guess what? It is really difficult for bills to pass and candidates to win elections when people don’t support them.
President Obama, while on the campaign trail said that he originally supported a single payer health care system, and in a world where health care policies could be rewritten, it would be the best system. But, he says now, we are too entrenched in our system and the country isn’t ready for that much change. This coming from the “change” President. In reality though, Obama taking this point of view not only took any discussion for single-payer off the table, but also hurt chances to get a public option because he had already conceded so much before negotiations for reform even began. Maybe if he hadn’t assumed that single-payer didn’t have a chance before actually giving the public a chance to voice their opinion, we would have had a better system already. As it turns out, almost every poll shows a majority of people support a government run system of some kind.
During the 2008 campaign, I was disappointed with all the Democratic candidates for president, and decided to vote third party. When I spoke with friends and acquaintances about this decision, they said I was throwing away my vote because the third party candidates would have no chance to win. I would reply that of course they didn’t have a chance to win if people weren’t voting for them simply because they didn’t think they had a chance to win.
It is time that progressives in this country started standing up for their beliefs no matter if the belief is popular or not. Who cares if it doesn’t seem like the idea doesn’t have majority support? In most cases, it actually probably does have the necessary support, and if it doesn’t, all change has to start from somewhere.
There was a time in this country where the majority were in favor of slavery, then that thankfully ended because people’s opposition got louder and louder. Then their opposition to segregation got louder. Then the opposition to Vietnam, then support for women’s rights. Now there is a push for gay rights that is quickly finding itself as the majority opinion. Health care reform is there too.
We need to stand up for our beliefs, and tell our representatives that it is not their job to vote on what they think can pass, it is their job to vote on what we, and they, think is right.
Sen. Baucus says, “my first job is to get this bill across the finish line. No one shows me how to get to 60 votes with a public option.” I say, “who cares!?”
The people have already expressed their support for a public option, and if the Congress refuses to pass true reform, we’ll let them know how we feel about it. We already let the Republicans know how we felt about their running the country, just like we let slave owners and segregationists know that they were no longer welcome.
Stand up Sen. Baucus, and all the rest of the Senate, and support what your constituents support. Don’t support what fringe right wing media and huge corporations support.