Democrats — September 10, 2009 at 6:00 pm

Of forests and trees and public options


Liberalism: Broad: showing or characterized by broad-mindedness; A political orientation that favors social progress by reform and by changing laws rather than by revolution. (WordNet)

Liberalism: The quality of being liberal; Any political movement founded on the autonomy and personal freedom of the individual, progress and reform, and government by law with the consent of the governed. (Wiktionary)

Liberal:: Broad: showing or characterized by broad-mindedness (WordNet)

That’s us, right? Liberals? Broadminded. Open to new ideas. Not fixed in dogma, tolerant of change.

But to read the words of many so-called liberals today, you’d think they were just the flip side of a coin with far-right wing conservatives on the other side.

Especially when it comes to the public option in health care reform.

Let me just preface this by saying that I am (a) 100% in favor of a single-payer, universal health care system in the USA and that, (b) a mandated system without a strong public option is, in the words of John Dingell: “a wonderful way to drum up business for the health care insurance companies.”

But here’s what I also believe: We have TENS of MILLIONS of Americans that are without health insurance and millions more that are woefully UNDER-insured and we absolutely have to do something NOW! to correct this shameful fact about our country.

So last night, when President Obama called on foes of health care reform to either bring helpful ideas to IMPROVE the legislation and to stop the lies and deceit, I applauded. And when he called upon progressives to end their single-minded focus on the public option which represents a small component in a very large system, I applauded that, too.

I’m a dreamer AND a pragmatist. I believe that one day we CAN have universal coverage that makes our country stronger. And I also believe that it will take some time to get there. We won’t get it all at once and we won’t get it right the first time, most likely.

But neither did we get it right the first time with Medicare. Or with Social Security. These were evolutionary processes that required further tweaking and adjusting after the first attempts. (A timeline for Medicare is HERE and the one for Social Security is HERE.)

What dismays me most on this site and in the comments and commentary on many other liberal sites today is the complete unwillingness of liberals to be open to different approaches. Because these approaches may help us close the gap and get this legislation passed sometime very, very soon. If, as the president said last night, everyone essentially agrees on 80% of what’s being proposed, then we are tantalizingly close to a truly exciting accomplishment. And if it’s not perfect now, we can perfect as we go, just like we did with Medicare and Social Security.

I challenge all liberals to be open to different means to an end we’re all pulling for: universal access to affordable, quality health care for every American citizen.

If you are drawing a line in the sand over a component that is a small, albeit important part of this legislation and saying “NO!” if that line is crossed, I contend that you are being just as dogmatic and just as conservative as those you decry on the right. You’ve focused completely on the trees and can no longer see the forest you are in. And that is not being a liberal.

I’m just sayin’…