When I was a lad, I was quite impressed by the clever way in which Br’er Rabbit gained freedom from his captor in the old 1946 Disney full-length cartoon flick, “The Song of the South” (since much reviled for its racial stereotypes, thus hardly ever seen anymore). It was the first movie I ever saw.
Clever Br’er Rabbit bemoans his doom at the hand of his captor, lamenting that the worst thing to possibly happen to him would be to have him thrown into the briar patch. “Please, please,” he intoned, counting on the cruelty of his captor, “Whatever you do, please don’t throw me into the briar patch!”
Of course, the briar patch was, in actuality, exactly where Br’er Rabbit wanted to wind up. There he could elude any antagonists by bounding beneath the briars that kept anyone larger out. When he was tossed there, he was thrilled. He was free.
I can’t help but wonder if the disastrous website roll out of the Affordable Care Act the last couple of months wasn’t a Br’er Rabbit-like trick on the Republicans. In other words, was it a deliberate ploy to get the GOP to go overboard exposing themselves for championing and cheering on the failure of the Obama Affordable Health Care act? No, but still. …
After all, most politicians, and the major media, can’t see beyond the next day’s headlines. So the GOP in this case simply couldn’t resist piling on with a particularly perverse glee that, once the web site is fixed, will be played back against them over and over again throughout the coming election year.
All those negative delights expressed in front of TV cameras on Fox and everywhere else, all the great, snickering predictions of doom and chaos those Republican congressmen couldn’t resist: They will all make for wonderful campaign fodder for Democrats as they rally the base of their party, newly enfranchised with the most important step forward in health care coverage in the history of the nation, to rip the foolish GOP asunder in the Fall 2014 elections.
How myopic and narrow-minded of all those Republicans not to see the obvious all along, that the website problems would get fixed, and millions of Americans would be able to sign up. Millions will be able to enjoy the benefits of health care without being denied benefits because of a pre-existing condition, and will find that, in most cases, the cost of the health care will be far lower than expected.
It’s one thing to intone against legislation when it is being debated, when it is considered part of a healthy debate on the merits. It is another thing, entirely, when one party, the losing party, refuses to accept the verdict of the majority, ratified by the U.S. Supreme Court, and continues to undermine and work for the failure of the new law at every step. That is downright unsavory and anti-democratic.
But the big verdict in this case will be delivered by the Affordable Care Act, itself. By next fall, its merits will be self-evident to everybody. Like the introduction of Social Security and Medicare, it will join those fundamental benefits, rightfully taken for granted, that this great nation provides its citizens.
Over the years ahead, it will be improved, but only to make it stronger, not to undo it. Recall what opponents to President Roosevelt’s Social Security program got for their efforts: Roosevelt was re-elected by landslides in three subsequent elections, and a Republican didn’t get near the White House until an anti-war war hero finally won two decades later.
So, a vast majority of Americans will be getting a wonderful gift this holiday season: the security and benefits that come with affordable and available health care.
When you consider how many Americans could not seek out preventive care and had to wait until seriously ill to stumble into an emergency room somewhere, and how many lives were racked with pain, disability and death as a result of this, then we should all give pause over this season of love and light and thank everything and every one who’ve helped bring an end to all that.