Monday, March 22, 2010

Health Care Reform - The Aftermath

By Roy Ortega

The bill has passed. Health care reform is coming. It's time to tone down the rhetoric and move on to other important issues. But I would be kidding myself if I honestly thought the American Right will take this historic passage sitting down.

Some of the hate and vitriol coming from the right is truly frightening. Prior to the vote on Sunday, Congressional members were spat upon. They endured a barrage of racial epiteths and were threatened with violence.

This is America?

No doubt, much of this uncivil behavior was spurred-on by a host of right-wing radio and TV talk show pundits. Perhaps good Americans should stay well above the fray and pay little attention to this ugly response from the Right.

But let's look at the historical record. The fact is, every single piece of legislation designed to improve the lives of Americans throughout our history such as civil rights, social security, welfare, Medicare, our national parks and the 40-hour work week, has been met with strong opposition from some segments of our population.

I strongly believe that opponents of the sweeping health care bill just passed by Congress will again find themselves on the wrong side of history. But I am most bothered by the ongoing campaign to characterize this victory as a decidedly sharp turn toward "socialism" in the U.S. All you have to do is listen to the shrill paranoia coming from empty heads like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh. "The Democratic Party is now officially the Socialist Party!", cried Beck. "Health care reform is fundamentally destroying America," declared Limbaugh.

All I can say is thank God most Americans are choosing to reject this nonsense.

During most of the heated, year-long health care debate, the American Right found it rather easy to use the word "socialism" as a way to scare people into believing we're becoming a "socialist" society. To that, I say bunk.

If you use the basic definition of the word, we have always had socialism in this country. We just don't call it that. Social Security, our welfare system, our schools and many of our institutions including our police and fire departments, local governments and churches can all be fundamentally defined as "socialist" organizations. But when the American Right uses the word "socialism" to spread fear and confusion, they're using the oppressive Soviet or third-world country definition of the word that does not apply to the U.S. - and never will. It's simply not in our DNA. The U.S. does not have the same historical precedence, cultural background, economic structure or turbulent dictatorial foundation as the Soviet Union or other communistic regimes.

In the aftermath of last weekend's historic House vote, you can surely bet that the American Right will continue its attempt to subvert the work of our duly and democratically-elected Congress.

Folks, brace yourselves for more of the worst kind of incivility you can imagine coming from the Right. The hatred and fear-mongering will surely intensify. God forbid it manifests itself in a violent upheaval of some kind.

But we should never lose sight of the fact that we, the American People, have spoken. We have spoken clearly through our well-defined and time-honored system of making laws in this country.

Congress has voted. The health care fight is over. Let's move on, America.

Roy Ortega may be reached at

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