The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
The above line is often attributed to Confucius; I read it in a fortune cookie once. It is such simple logic, but often we become so wrapped up in the obstacles that impede the journey that we become mired in fear of failure and stand still, stuck in our own misgivings. I've been thinking about how important it is to take that single step as I've been reading reactions to the Senate vote to proceed with debate on the Senate's version of the health care reform bill.
I've had misgivings about both the House and Senate bills; I don't think that either of them goes far enough in making the substantive changes that are needed to provide affordable health care to everyone. However, I think that the passage of the House's bill, and the Senate's vote to move to debate and avoid a Republican fueled filibuster are steps forward on what may prove to be a long journey to health care reform on a grand scale.
My friend Beth (Nutwood Junction) observed in a Facebook comment that if health care reform legislation is defeated, it will be perceived as a failure of the Obama administration. I agree, if this reform of health care fails, then everything that Obama attempts after this is likely to be met with such resistance that it fails. A victory, even a flawed one, will give impetus to future change and there is so much more to be done.
Politics has always been a game of compromises. Draw a line in the sand and all you do is lose. (Former President George W. Bush was fond of drawing lines in the sand; he described himself as the Decider. Of course he didn't actually decide anything, he just drifted into one bad policy after the other, but he perceived his no compromise stance as indicative of a position of power.)
So although neither of the health care reform bills goes as far as is needed for real reform, I believe that the hybrid of the two that is likely to be passed (today I'm an optimist) will move the debate forward, laying a foundation for additional reform in the future.
I don't think that I'm dreaming. I was born in 1955, one year after the U.S. Supreme Court declared in Brown v. the Topeka Board of Education that separate but equal was inherently unequal. Yet, I grew up under segregation. The south didn't rush to take down the "colored not allowed" or "white only" signs. I attended segregated schools until I was in tenth grade (1971). It took a seemingly endless stream of legislation to bring to fruition the promise of the Brown decisions of 1954 & 1955: the Civil Rights Acts of 1957, 1960, 1964, 1968, 1991, and the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
The journey towards a health care system that serves the needs of all of the people, that doesn't deny access to health care to the people, and is not motivated by profit margins, is a good thousand miles, maybe more. However, I do believe that a win now will lead to additional changes until we get it right. I've seen it happen before; I have lived change that once seemed impossible. All we have to do is to take the first step. President Obama has already begun the journey; all that we must do is have a little faith and travel with him.