No, it isn’t because I wanted it to, though that would have been nice. It isn’t because the right has made asses of themselves the whole time, though they heave and that certainly played a role (we will talk more about that later). It wasn’t even because everyone thinks that Universal Health Care is a good idea. Not everyone does. This is an issue of public opinion, and it is an issue that has been long considered by the public and their representatives. It is a political hot potato, and the potato has landed in the hands of the Obama administration. The reason that the previous administration did not address the issue with proposed legislation is that they were fully aware that any attempt at trying to solve the problem is most likely political suicide. It is a polarizing issue, and one that, when addressed, will bring the fringe elements out of the woodwork. Here is the reality of this situation, though, It was not the fringe element that elected this administration.
For the first time in a long time, a president was elected by a strong majority of centrist voters. The election process was a good barometer for the climate to come. We will see plenty of shouting and screaming and name calling from all of the fringe groups and political nut jobs. We will hear politicians ducking and dodging and playing their political cards close to their chests. Even when the politicians speak out, listen closely. There are loopholes for backpedaling in most of the public statements. Why is that? What makes this political climate so different than previous attempts at social change?
The answer to that question can be derived from the question itself. President Obama is not tackling international issues, domestic issues, or economic issues. He is tackling social issues. This may seem like splitting hairs to you, but notice the difference in approach to the solutions that are presented from this administration to relevant political issues. The responses are as much about social change than about the specifics of the issue at hand. I can hear the health care reform opposition now, shouting that this administration is avoiding the real issues and focusing on socialism (and maybe I should check my car for sticky bombs before I leave the house, in case someone is really mad at me about it.) When social change becomes the subject of the debate, a lot of people get wound up. The problem is that the people who get the most wound up did not elect this president. As a matter of fact, and here is where we get to the right wing self destruction campaign, the most vocal people in the media spotlight still only get one vote. If you add up all of the people who are swayed by the angry lashing out of the common right wing soldiers for ignorance, they only come out to about 2.6% of the American voting public (don’t look for references on that number, I made it up.) We have reasonable conservatives, active liberals, thinking independents, and all that go along with these groups, and they all made a clear statement during the last election that they were not only for social change, but that they were excited about it.
We are engaged in a national debate about economic, domestic, and international issues from the framework of our national social conscience. That kind of debate has not happened in this country for a long time, and the reality is that this administration is setting the tone for the conversation. We elected them to institute a change in the way that our government operates, and they will be successful in doing so because the majority of reasonable Americans understands that the change is necessary and imminent. The Health Care Reform bill passed, albeit with some concessions, because people are prepared for change, and they have embraced the President. Wielding fear as a political tool has worked in the past, but this administration is better at wielding the power of hope and encouragement. Barack Obama proved it during the election, and his administration will prove it again.
It is apparent in his demeanor this week that he is confident and ready for the challenge of shaping the public debate. He had a rough first year, but it will be election time again soon, and we will once again see the power of a politician who understands the true nature of giving the people what they want; social progress.