From Teddy Roosevelt to Teddy Kennedy, some of the best and brightest American leaders have fought for the now 45,000 Americans who die each year because they have no health insurance, and the nearly one million who go bankrupt each year because of medical expenses, even though most of those Americans had health insurance when they first got sick.
But today, March 23, 2010, President Barack Obama has just signed into law the historic, sweeping reforms of our health care system -- indeed, as the unmoved and unmovable Republican opposition stated, one-sixth of the entire American economy -- after their passage by the U.S. House, under the leadership of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and the U.S. Senate, under the likewise heroic leadership of Majority Leader Harry Reid.
Of course, more work remains to be done. Sen. Reid assured the House before their historic vote that a "significant majority" of senators will soon approve the House amendments, by simple -- unfilibustered -- democratic majority, via "budget reconciliation" -- the same rules used by the GOP to pass Bush tax cuts primarily for the wealthy, which we are still paying for, unlike these health care reforms, which the Congressional Budget Office estimates will not only pay for themselves but also cut the federal deficit by over one trillion dollars.
And over the next several months, leading up to the elections in the fall, those opposed to these historic reforms have promised to do everything within their power, at the federal and state and astroturf levels, to continue their vicious, sometimes violent, sometimes racist and homophobic and misogynist and otherwise hateful campaign of misinformation, in an attempt to further confuse and terrorize millions of Americans and turn them against their own best interest, for the ultimate benefit of those who have profited so handsomely and immorally from the health care status quo.
But encouraged by our success, and our deep-seated moral conviction that what we have done and continue to do is quite simply the right thing to do, just as it was for those who came before us to enact Social Security and Medicare or the landmark Civil Rights legislation of the 1950s and '60s, we will continue to make history -- breaking the color barrier to the White House, preventing another Great Depression(the near-collapse of the world's financial system and the resultant Great Recession being the previous president's "contribution" to history), and helping ourselves and our fellow Americans whose only fault -- in falling ill -- is being human.
WHAT WAS AT TRULY STAKE
What was at stake in the health care battle was not "the details of policy, but the character of our country."
ON THE NIGHT OF VICTORY, OVER A CENTURY IN THE MAKING
"We proved that this government -- a government of the people and by the people -- still works for the people. ...
"Today's vote answers the dreams of so many who have fought for this reform. To every unsung American who took the time to sit down and write a letter or type out an e-mail hoping your voice would be heard -- it has been heard tonight. To the untold numbers who knocked on doors and made phone calls, who organized and mobilized out of a firm conviction that change in this country comes not from the top down, but from the bottom up -- let me reaffirm that conviction: This moment is possible because of you. ...
"This is what change looks like. ...
"Tonight, we answered the call of history as so many generations of Americans have before us. When faced with crisis, we did not shrink from our challenge -- we overcame it. We did not avoid our responsibility -- we embraced it. We did not fear our future -- we shaped it."
THANKS TO MILLIONS OF AMERICANS, ORGANIZED AND EMPOWERED