Obama, Healthcare Reform and the Promise of America

A theme which President Obama highlighted during the 2008 presidential campaign was one which Martin Luther King echoed in the Civil Rights Movement: Making America live-up to its ideals in the Declaration of Independence and Constitution.  In March 2008 Obama gave a memorable speech in Philadelphia where he trumpeted the following:

“We the people, in order to form a more perfect union.” Two hundred and twenty one years ago, in a hall that still stands across the street, a group of men gathered and, with these simple words, launched America’s improbable experiment in democracy. The document they produced was eventually signed but ultimately unfinished. It was stained by this nation’s original sin of slavery… The document they produced was eventually signed but ultimately unfinished. It was stained by this nation’s original sin of slavery… A Constitution that had at is very core the ideal of equal citizenship under the law; a Constitution that promised its people liberty, and justice, and a union that could be and should be perfected over time.

And yet words on a parchment would not be enough to deliver slaves from bondage, or provide men and women of every color and creed their full rights and obligations as citizens of the United States. What would be needed were Americans in successive generations who were willing to do their part — through protests and struggle, on the streets and in the courts, through a civil war and civil disobedience and always at great risk — to narrow that gap between the promise of our ideals.

This was one of the tasks we set forth at the beginning of this campaign — to continue the long march of those who came before us, a march for a more just, more equal, more free, more caring and more prosperous America.

Comprehensive Healthcare Reform, with a robust public option, is a strategic and proxy issue for moving America toward a more perfect Union.  Progressive and the Democratic Left must remind Obama of this and hold him accountable to on his statement to narrowing that gap between the promise of our ideals. This was not just a campaign pledge, but a social contract with those who gave money, time and resources to elect him the 44th President of the United States of America.    Make no mistake about it; what’s at stake is more than just the issue of healthcare.  Healthcare Reform is a strategic initiative which has automatic and profound effects and ramifications over many other issue areas.  For example, healthcare as envisioned in its fullest with the public option would: lower healthcare cost, make create new jobs and healthcare technology, increased wellness efforts, launch more comparative research, initiative pay-by-performance, and make healthcare more affordable to millions of Americans.  In effect this one strategic issue has the potential to realign the electoral map, making Democrats the dominant political party and establishing a moral and progressive agenda that in the end could very well, on Obama’s watch, move America significantly closer to realizing its promise of a “more perfect union” and in the process make millions of Americans more hopeful about real change coming to America.  The Republican, the electoral expression of the Right, understands what is at stake.  Mr. President, take instruction and inspiration from what you said in Philadelphia, March 2008.    As you would have said in 2008, “Yes we can.”


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