Compassionate Sanity Comes to America’s Health Care System


norman-rockwell-before-the-shotA century-long effort to bring some compassionate sanity to America’s health care system was passed by Congress last night. Lo and behold, the hammer and sickle is not flying from capitols across the land. Instead, it’s care and security for millions of our neighbors who have been locked out of doctors’ offices by yesterday’s rogue insurance industry.

Insurance companies can no longer deny you coverage because of a pre-existing condition. You won’t pay premiums for years only to be kicked off your insurance plan when you get sick. Small business gets a tax break to provide insurance to its employees. A high-risk pool is established. And, the budge deficit is reduced by a trillion dollars over 20 years.

Despite the claims of the radical Right, there are no government death panels. Government is not running your health care. “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” remain the guarantees bequeathed to us by the Founders. “Remain” is the wrong word. Those promises were strengthened by passage of health care reform.

I have been saddened by the behavior of some during the course of the debate. The insurance industry spent millions and millions of dollars to mislead some Americans. They succeeded. Playing upon the fears and anxieties of some, they funded the tea parties which in the end were a lot more fertilizer than grassroots. That cynical effort also included the overt encouragement of racist rhetoric and even threats of violence. Those behind those manipulations will live in infamy.

The 2010 political landscape shifted last night. A win of this magnitude will certainly change the dynamics in Texas and around the country. The Republicans managed to put themselves on the defensive. When armed communists don’t show up in our living rooms and hospitals, they’ll have some explaining to do. I mean, they did wail that the bill meant certain doom for democracy.

It must be hell to be totally controlled by industry benefactors. Republicans had no choice but to carry water for their corporate benefactors. Well, they had a choice, but no courage to make the right choice. They are insurance shills, nothing more, nothing less.

I remember studying the Great Depression years and the New Deal in school. I was dismayed at the pure stupidity of Republicans who continued to make obscene gestures at the American people on behalf of their corporate godfathers. They paid the price. But they obviously haven’t learned that lesson.

Here in Texas, the 2010 election prognosticators will need to start over, just as they will in other states. It’ll take some time for the dust to settle. Democrats got a boost. But I wouldn’t put too much faith in anyone’s crystal ball in the next few hours and days. It will all be spin intended to influence the future, not predict it accurately. I’ll say this, though. It’ll be hard for Republicans to persuade us to go back to yesterday, to deny care because of a pre-existing condition. To them I say, health care reform is the new pre-existing condition.

Author: Glenn W. Smith

Glenn W. Smith has spent the past 30 years in journalism and politics, where he’s made a name for himself as a writer, campaign manager, activist, think tank analyst and, as Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas says, a “legendary political consultant and all-around good guy.” “There’s no one like him,” says author George Lakoff. CNN commentator Paul Begala says, “He has unmatched experience, a graceful pen (or pixel nowadays) and deep insight into the best and worst of us.” Novelist Sarah Bird speaks of his “lucid and lyrical” prose. And, she says, he’s fun. Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington says Glenn writes with “grace and abundant humor” and “uses his colorful experiences in Texas to enlighten us all.”

Smith led Ann Richards’ successful 1990 campaign for Governor of Texas. He worked for former Texas Lt. Gov. Bill Hobby and U.S. Senator Lloyd Bentsen. Earlier, Smith was a political reporter for the Houston Chronicle and the Houston Post. He’s coordinated national campaigns for groups such as In 2004, he authored the highly acclaimed book, The Politics of Deceit: Saving Freedom and Democracy from Extinction. He also wrote Unfit Commander, a book that detailed George W. Bush’s mysterious disappearance from military service.

In 2004, Smith was featured in the film, Bush’s Brain, a documentary about Karl Rove. Smith provided commentary on Rove’s role as then-President Bush’s senior advisor. He has made numerous media appearances with Chris Mathews on Hardball, Joe Scarborough, Brit Hume, and many others. He writes a regularly for top national web sites, including FireDogLake and Huffington Post.

As a senior fellow at George Lakoff’s prestigious Rockridge Institute in Berkeley he studied, wrote and taught on the power of metaphor and narrative in political communications. He also lectured on religion and politics at the Starr King School for Ministry in Berkeley. As a sponsor and organizer, he has pulled together numerous national events with progressive religious leaders. He also organized a celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King at Riverside Church in New York City as well as “Freedom and Faith” bus tours, which was a nationwide campaign for social justice and progressive values.

Smith’s play, Double Play, which explored American Western myths and legends, was held over to sold-out audiences. He’s even written and performed songs in the Americana tradition, such as his best-known song, “Helping Marty Robbins,” a tribute to his hometown, Houston.

Most recently, Smith is the creator of DogCanyon, a political and cultural web site covering state, national and global issues from a Texas perspective. DogCanyon is an exhilarating and unique site that gets the connections between politics and culture and explores both the personal side of politics and the ups, down, craziness and beauty of “life its ownself,” as humorist Dan Jenkins would say. DogCanyon offers heartfelt personal essays, hard-hitting political analysis, and, most importantly, laughs.

As Paul Begala said, Smith writes in “the finest, firmest, fearless tradition of Texas essayists like Molly Ivins.”

2 thoughts on “Compassionate Sanity Comes to America’s Health Care System”

  1. Though flawed and incomplete in the minds of many, the passage of this bill will mean a tangible improvement in quality of life for all.

    Here is its second greatest benefit: it is obvious someone has been lying about health care reform for over a year. Someone had been lying steadily, persistently, with malice aforethought.

    Had the legislation been defeated, many Americans would never have known for sure who it was.

    But the bill will be signed into law, we will experience its effects, and we will know who was lying.

    This will be instructive to voters in November and beyond. May the truth tellers benefit and may the liars suffer. Let the karmic chips fall.

  2. The actions of the Republicans were, unsurprisingly, horrible. The actions of the Democratic majority were extremely disappointing, but also not surprising.

    There are some good things in this bill, but the bottom line is, the health insurance industry remains the foundation for health care. That conversation — access to affordable and good health care as a fundamental human right — was not allowed. By Democrats, it was not allowed.

    The executive order regarding abortion was unncessary, and more significantly, it is wrong.

    It seems unlikely we’ll know much about the practical effects of the bill, assuming (as I do) that it makes it through the remainder of the legislative process, by November. Voters largely will still be making decisions based on what they’re being told, not what they actually see.

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