You’re welcome, America…

22Mar10

Now I surely don’t need to explain my pro-American outlook, do I? If I do, it will have to wait for now because I thought I’d make some observations on America’s (narrowly secured) embrace of a new health care system – even health care service –  after President Obama made this the defining issue of his candidacy during the last Presidential race.

It was shameful for certain British Conservative politicians to attempt to assassinate our NHS in the US media – going far out of their way to do so. Nonetheless a word of thanks to those who tried. Not only did they reveal some real Tory hostility to the NHS – still – but they also illustrated the growing ties between the Tories and the US Republicans. More on that later, too. 

 The introduction of a new health care system in the US should give British progressives a warm glow; we were the torch bearers for this and we remain the torch bearers for this in every country around the world. No single piece of legislation in this country has changed British society like Labour’s introduction of the NHS and it’s hard to envisage a piece of legislation that will ever have a similar effect.

Like with the introduction of the NHS in the UK, Obama and the Democrats have had to square up to powerful vested interests in the US. The fight has been a fierce one and much political energy and capital has been spent on securing the Bill’s passage. So much so that it might severely damage the Democrats in the mid-term elections and severely damage Obama when he runs for re-election. The Bill has been so divisive in some quarters that it may actually cost Obama the Presidency.

 Bravo, I say. Progressives march towards the sound of gunfire – not away from it.  Political office is a tool with which to achieve change, not just a chattel to be sought and played with. Political office must have a purpose – otherwise its pursuit is meaningless. So if Obama, on the back of these reforms, is cast aside as a one term President, he can leave the Oval Office knowing he did more to transform the lives of millions of ordinary people in four years, than most Presidents have ever done in eight. That’s not defeat, that’s victory and that’s what progressive politics is for.

 So let’s salute this political bravery and seek to emulate it. Political office is pointless, unless it is used to meaningful effect.

 In politics, bravery is a rare commodity and its value is on the rise.

Hail to the Chief.

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