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You are right that this is a political hot potato that has been on the table for years. I know we can go at least as far back as George Bush the First and see that every president since then has said they were going to finally reform healthcare, but not one of them had the guts to see it through. Clinton made the most noise, actually going so far as to carry on a dog and pony show at one of his State of the Union addresses where he held up a model of the healthcare card that would be issued to every American. Yeah, well, we can only have the card Bill if you don't chicken out and drop the matter about a month after that speech.
Because it is such a hot-button and absolutely contentious issue, I am actually surprised that Obama appears poised to actually carry out his promise to reform the healthcare system. I kind of figured that while he might try harder than any of his predecessors to get a reform bill passed, that in the end, he would realize trying to achieve just that would cost him far too high a political price and make him a one-term president. Now, it appears I was wrong about that. It certainly looks like Obama is willing to sacrifice any chance of winning a second term by going all the way with his promises on healthcare. I say he'll be sacrificing his chances because I totally believe that no matter what version of the bill gets passed, it will anger one side or the other enough that he will never be able to recover and build any kind of consensus for the next time. If that turns out to be the case, then frankly I feel that even those who hate Obama and ardently oppose him should at least respect him for that. After all, what politician has had the guts in recent history to be the champion of an important issue that is so divisive, and so unpopular among a good-sized part of the electorate wants no part of it? None that I can think of, and I can also think of few issues that are as divisive as modern healthcare reform. Seeing as every politician I've ever known takes action 90 percent of the time solely to do something that will ensure his/her reelection, it is kind of stunning to see someone willing to ride such an unpopular horse all the way to the finish line (if, in fact, that does end up happening--we're still only at the quarter-mile post, I'd say, so a lot can happen).
Just my opinion, and I do realize that there are many out there who dislike Obama too much to concede respect or any other positive recognition, and I respect those feelings. If the issue in question wasn't healthcare, something that is of the utmost importance to every person in this forum, I wouldn't have even remotely considered commenting on it like this, and I still hope that people understand that I am not using this post to praise Obama for his political views or liberal ideology. As I said, I just think that ANY politician, Republican or Democrat, who is willing to risk his political life in this manner because he thinks an issue is essentially important to the long-term well-being of the country, at least deserves a little grudging respect for the willingness to champion that issue.
If somehow this attempt at healthcare reform falls through at the last minute and nothing ends up being done--at least nothing of note--then I am afraid that all we've done is postpone the inevitable. The industry absolutely MUST be reformed so that fewer people are left to fall through the cracks, and so that those who DO have insurance can get some relief from ever-rising premiums. If not this president, then the next, and if it doesn't even get done at that point, then I fear the system will experience some kind of collapse that will instantly force the issue and lead to reforms that are far less pleasant than anything proposed now because they will happen on the fly and in crisis mode.