Last fall I shared in the disappointment of 47 percent of the voters who did not cast their ballots for Barack Obama and feared his stated intention of "transforming" America into a socialist regime. With Democrats in firm control of both houses of Congress, this seemed a likely as well as a fearful prospect.
But things are looking up. This week Obama Administration officials indicated that they may abandon the so-called "public option" feature of their health care insurance proposal because of widespread and intense public opposition. This demonstrates that public opinion still counts for a great deal in our republican form of government and, indeed, is capable of doing some "transforming" of its own — in this case, thwarting socialized health care.
Without forgetting for a moment that Obama and his fellow Democrats still control all three elective branches of the federal government, we know now that, although they can fool some of the people all of the time and even all the people some of the time, they evidently cannot fool all the people all of the time.
It is critical that we understand the explanation for this serious blow to the Obama Administration's plans for the nation. Many Americans of both parties, and independents, and even some who have had no previous involvement in politics, were outraged that the terms and conditions of nationalized health care were so severe.
This reaction was not because of alleged "lies" by Republicans and "special interests" (doctors, hospitals, drug and insurance companies) that the government would in due course come to dominate the field and that the unprecedented costs would be covered with higher taxes and rationing, doubtless at the expense of those deemed unworthy of "extraordinary" care. That's all true.
Way back when, we were admonished to be concerned about approximately 40 million people who lacked health insurance, but that was soon overwhelmed by the hard Democrat push for universal coverage to replace the allegedly capricious decision making of the "evil" health insurance firms.
Unfortunately for Obama and the Democrats, millions of Americans have health plans they are satisfied with. Whatever complaints they may have, they look far less favorably upon a one-size-fits-all system which, if Canada and the United Kingdom are instructive, will force people to wait for months for appointments while unsocialized dogs and cats can get theirs with veterinarians far sooner!
This is a time to be grateful for our free commerce which enables health care providers and consumers to agree to plans and payments which are mutually beneficial. Those plans are valuable properties — private properties — which belong to individuals and are not subject to confiscation by the government for the sake of "spreading the wealth around."
Thus, private property, the foundation of our free and profitable trade and commerce, has both taken care of the health of millions and enabled them to "speak truth to power." Americans are not mere ciphers in a soulless administrative state but self governing persons.
This is precisely what the founders of modern republican government intended with equal rights under law and immense opportunities for energetic and capable citizens to rise above mediocrity and follow their dreams.
Those same people are free to vote for representatives of their own choosing, knowing that they have the power to vote out of office any miscreants who would take away their right to govern themselves.
It is not surprising that so many people taking part in politics for possibly the first time in their lives should exhibit less polished arts of speaking and writing than those who have practiced them for many years. I remember vividly my own entry during my college years, impatient for change and wanting to be heard. Since then I have seen others go through the same sort of initiation. Experience is a great teacher and the latest entrants will learn the lessons of moderation that others have before them.
Part of that political education consists in taking the long view of things. All victories are temporary, until the next challenge comes along. However appealing the idea of term limits is, our nation needs a continual supply of citizens not only participating actively in politics but seeking public office if they have virtues to contribute to the public good.
One hopes that current as well as future political leaders will appreciate the advantages of the present fortuitous circumstances and bring more and more public-spirited people into legislative and executive campaigns and governing so that we can continue to keep the socialist wolf at bay.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Richard Reeb taught political science, philosophy and journalism at Barstow College from 1970 to 2003. He is the author of " Taking Journalism Seriously: 'Objectivity' as a Partisan Cause" (University Press of America, 1999). He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.