Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Musings about Lincoln and Obama

It's no secret that I love Barack Obama. There has been so much criticism of him the past few months -- mostly because changes are not happening fast enough for some people -- especially progressives -- which I more or less am. Patience, I say ... it is important that when important changes take place, that the ground work is carefully laid, and that the structure of success is well-conceived.

Two weeks ago I finished Team of Rivals: the Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin. What a wonderful tome. For it is indeed a "tome", but I relished every page. I read the book because it was often referred to during the presidential campaign as being influential on Obama. Clearly Lincoln was a great role model for our current President -- from announcing his candidacy from the same place in Springfield, Illinois to using Lincoln's Bible on Innauguration Day. And there are many ways in which he reminds me and others of the 16th American President up to and including his own Cabinet Team of Rivals. Like Lincoln, I believe that Barack Obama is a man of great patience and one who understands the importance of seizing the right moment.

I read with great interest, for example how Lincoln was able to bring about the Emancipation Proclamation when the time was right, when the Congress would pass it. No one knows for sure if Lincoln's intention from the beginning was to end slavery in every state of the Union -- it was a long and drawn out process and the timing of its acceptance was a matter of knowing not only when, but how.

I think of this often now. My greatest political wish is to have single payer healthcare. I have not been happy with the plan put forth by Obama during the campaign. And many of us are not sure what to think about an alternative 'Public Plan' and none of us want the 7 year trigger -- that is ludicrous. However, over the past several days concern is raining down because 'Obama is looking at the 7 year trigger'. Obama is smart -- he has to look at the plan -- if only to know what it says in order that hopefully when he says "no" he can give definitive reasons why it is a bad idea -- because, as he famously put it to one television reporter "I like to know what I'm talking about". The best way to defeat an idea is to understand the idea and the ramifications of that idea.

A few weeks ago at a Town Hall Meeting the first question he was asked was about why Single Payer health care wasn't part of the current discussions. He said that if it weren't for the fact that we were a country that had in place an insurance based system and if the country could start from scratch, Single Payer Healthcare is what he would want. I can't exactly explain why but that admission on his part made me think that maybe, just maybe he was trying to work our way there -- one step at a time.

And it also makes me think that it is important for all of us to work toward that goal with him so that he has plenty of back up. In Lincoln's day he didn't have the luxury of the people at his finger tips. Politics was at the mercy of the politicians much more than it is now. Obama said, "We are the people we have been waiting for". We got him elected and with us he/we can succeed in making the changes that we want happen. If Lincoln managed to get the Emancipation Proclamation incorporated into our Bill of Rights, we can manage to help Obama get every American healthcare for all and I believe he is on the case.

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