"I was promised flying cars! I don't see any flying cars!" Avery Brooks may have found an answer by the end of this IBM commercial from early 2000, but his angst towards an unfulfilled promise has become my rallying cry as the public insurance option is slowly slipping away.
I walked out to my car last night to put my reusable grocery bags into the trunk and stared at the magnetic sticker still clinging to the bumper. For the tenth time this summer, I considered it ripping it off with extreme prejudice. In all of my years as a register voter, I've never put any political stickers on my car. Last summer, I took the leap and ordered the magnet from MoveOn.org. I felt so strongly about Barack Obama that I wanted the world (and by the "world", I mean the other residents of my right-leaning neighborhood) how excited I was at the prospect of electing a forward-thinking progressive. Now the sticker mocks me. It taunts me. It reminds me why I've never put a political sticker on my previous cars.
Politics is dirty business; I understand that. There is so much backscratching going on in Washington that a spray bottle of rubbing alcohol could be considered a weapon of mass torture. I've never had any illusions otherwise because even the most well-meaning of politicians can't get anything done without compromise and sucking up to the lobbyists holding the purse strings. But there was something about Barack Obama... he seemed to really want to make a difference. He was young and only slightly tainted by a short term in the Senate. I thought, "maybe this 'hope' business isn't all the usual bullshit".
President Obama, where is my flying car? You promised us real reform and all I feel like I've gotten is one of those Razor motorized scooters. There isn't a single flying car to be found.
First, you failed us on "don't ask/don't tell". Talk about a slap in the face for any thinking American. It simply makes no sense to start allowing white supremacists to join the military, while continuing to kick out educated service personnel simply because of their sexual orientation. Even Bill Clinton can't believe this is still happening, and he's the one who signed it into law.
Next up was the promise to reform big business. That was lovely in theory, but as Frank Rich points out, "We just learned that nine of those bailed-out banks — which in total received $175 billion of taxpayers’ money, but as yet have repaid only $50 billion — are awarding a total of $32.6 billion in bonuses for 2009."
What about that promise to make sure lobbyists weren't going to be a part of your administration? That was a big one for millions of Americans who only see government as an extension of big business. Your administration has hired several former lobbyists, including William J. Lynn, Deputy Secretary for Defense and recent lobbyist for the defense contractor Raytheon.
But the biggie? The biggest "too bad, so sad" so far? "‘Public Option’ in Health Plan May Be Dropped". Several top officials made the rounds yesterday signaling that you were ready to compromise with the blue dogs and Republicans by dropping the only thing that gave this legislation any teeth. Kathleen Sebelius, the Health and Human Services Secretary, was on CNN yesterday begging us "let's not have this be the only focus of the conversation.":
"...making sure that we have new rules for insurance companies, that they can't dump people out of the marketplace if you get sick, that they can't drop your coverage based on a pre-existing condition, that you can't be priced out because you're a woman instead of a man, and gender discrimination won't be allowed to continue anymore. Those are really essential parts of the program, along with choice and competition, which I think we'll have at the end of the day."
What in God's sweet name makes her, or anyone else in the Administration, think that choice and competition will be a part of this bill without the public option? We don't have choice and competition now. How is telling all companies they can't call a zit a pre-existing condition going to do anything about choice or competition?
Where the hell is my flying car? Why does this administration and congress continue to let the Republican party shape the debate? It is public knowledge that many of the people screaming in town halls are shipped in thanks to Freedomworks and other insurance industry PACs. Anyone who has been paying attention knows that the Blue Dog Democrats are all at the top of the list of insurance and health care handouts. Why aren't those talking points? Why aren't you fighting harder for the public option instead of laying down dead in an act of defeat?
The right already has you pegged as a liberal extremist and a rabid socialist, so there is no point in trying to convince them otherwise. You have one year left to make a real difference, to show the American people that the Democratic Party has a plan to help them. By giving in, once again, to the extreme right, you are doing this country and your party a huge disservice. The 2010 elections are going to go back to the GOP if the Democrats can't prove they made the bold choices, the tough decisions, that were 100% right for the American people.
This administration promised us real change. Dropping the public option will be just another failed promise. You told us to have hope. You said, "Yes, we can." Can we? Or can we just assume the rest of this term will be one broken promise after another as the Democratic party continues to lay down for the Republicans?
I want my flying car!