Some people point to the troubled Affordable Care Act as a perfect example of governmental overreach, bloat, and failure. The leaders who have called for its repeal for years are now poised to make that a reality. Some see the result of the election as a mandate to get rid of this flawed law and save the American people a ton of money. I get it—I, too, am wary of government intervention in my personal business. I have no desire to see the creation of a giant bureaucracy where the actual delivery of service takes a backseat to corruption and self-preservation. It’s easy to just give up on the idea that government is capable of doing anything well. Indeed, it was President Ronald Regan who famously said, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.'” This is one of the guiding principles of the Republican party. Government is thought of as inept, wasteful, and a downright danger to its people. However, Regan’s quote doesn’t quite square with that of another beloved Republican President, Abraham Lincoln, who said in his Gettysburg Address, “government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from this earth.” Lincoln reminds us that the American government is not comprised of alien life forms from the planet Governmentia. The American government is made up of American people. Does a belief in the ineptitude of the American government equate to a belief in the ineptitude of the American people? Is our “shining city upon a hill” filled with idiots who can’t govern themselves? Of course not—we are a people capable of extraordinary accomplishments as individuals, groups, and even as a government. The ACA isn’t failing because government can’t succeed. If anything, its problems are proof that the answer can’t come from just one side of the aisle.
Democrats and Republicans share a relationship of balance. They need each other to see what they are missing, and to see issues from all perspectives, not just their own. I don’t blame either side for the current situation, but I do have a suggestion regarding how we can make the needed changes to this law and avoid many of the new pitfalls that could occur. The first thing we need to do is simply admit to ourselves the obvious: we all, every single one of us, want to be able to see a doctor when the need arises. It comes with living, doesn’t it? At some point in our lives, we will need to visit a health care professional because, well, things happen. Could we also agree that we would rather not be driven into bankruptcy just because we needed to see a doctor? Access to affordable and competent health care is a key element of the happiness we’re all trying to pursue. Although it might be selfish to frame the concept in this fashion, we at least want this for ourselves. I might even go so far as to say we expect it. If this is true, this near consensus elevates the issue beyond the petty playing fields of commerce and trade, and onto the hallowed ground of human rights and morality. If we truly want affordable health care for ourselves then that means we all feel the same way about the same thing. This is power—an irresistible power! It is the will of the people. That power is ours! It belongs to each and every one of us. After we admit this fundamental truth to ourselves, we can then set upon the task of electing representatives who will concentrate on the best way to provide access to quality, affordable health care for all Americans, and do so together as one legislative body. Of course, Democrats will stay Democrats and Republicans will stay Republicans, but now they will work together because we, their bosses, demand it and are watching. If Democrats and Republicans worked together to find the best solution for our health care crisis, I believe an answer that truly works for all Americans can be found. Otherwise, we run the risk of just jumping from one failed system to another, just as the political pendulum swings from one extreme to another.
I believe in America. I believe that we are a great nation capable of putting our differences aside and setting our course toward truth. Our previous great generations fought and won world wars and turned back those that threatened our freedoms. Our previous great generations put a man on the moon. The path to our present greatness lies before us. Not in military conquest or space exploration, but in the creation of a new American civil right—the universal right to health. To achieve this, we must work together to create this new American masterpiece. What else would a great nation do?