Failing the midterms

So last night was a bit of a bomb for the Democratic party (and, I’d argue, the well-being of the entire country).   The GOP (read: Tea Party Party) took over control of the House of Representatives, though thankfully didn’t take over control of the Senate.  Also, thankfully, Harry Reid didn’t lose to Sharrrrrrron Angle in his district, which would have made the Repub gloating all the worse on the day-after media circuit.

While I’m disappointed in the results, I’m not that surprised or that dismayed.  While it’s going to be PAINFUL to have to watch John Boehner as Speaker of the House, I don’t think the GOP can inflict much damage in their majority capacity.

If anything, it will be interesting to see how the Republican party will have to step up to actually get something done for a change — rather than all the childish, slamming of feet, saying “NO!” that they’ve accomplished during the last 2 years.

I love how, last night in his “victory” speech, Boehner said that it’s now time for him to “roll up his sleeves” and get some work done in the House.  If only he had that attitude for the last 20 years he’s served as a Representative.

Stay tuned, this political ride is going to get bumpy, methinks.

(and I feel fine)

Back home, is it the end of the world as we know it?

If you were to believe much of the uproar on conservative TV/radio/blogs these days, the US is now on the brink of an “apocalypse” because insurance companies will soon have to dedicate 80% of their customers’ funds to actual health care costs. (the horror!!1!) Worse yet, these same insurance companies can’t deny coverage to kids, and eventually will have to eliminate their overuse of “pre-existing conditions” to deny coverage to women. (again, the horror!!1!!)

I have to admit, it’s been fascinating watching all the hullabaloo over health care reform back home, especially now that I live in a country where health care isn’t something you have to fear not having access to. Not only that, but Canada is a country that so valued my first year as a mama that it ensured I could stay home with my little one, with pay, for her first 12 months to help give us a good start in our lives together. On the other hand, my sister, who lives in New York state, got only a 6-weeks and a we’ll-save-your-job with no pay start to her mamahood experience.

What I don’t understand is the fear and loathing of people who are opposed to health care reform — for some, it’s not enough that they lost and the bill is now law, but in the last few days, many Democratic members of Congress are receiving threatening phone calls or having physical damage done to their property by some enraged anti-reform folk.

More on this from tonight’s Rachel Maddow show — but be warned, this stuff is hard to watch:

and CNN:

I can’t tell which is worse: the violent nutjobs who are making the threats, or the quiet (and seemingly condoning) Republican congressional leadership. I think it spoke VOLUMES when none of the House Republican leadership appeared with the Dems to denounce these activities in today’s press conference. How bad are things when even some FOX News (!) reporters notice the dangers of over-inflated dissent inciting people to act out in stupid and dangerous ways?

Maybe much of this fury is to be expected? After all, even here in “socialist Canada” there were issues when health care reform was passed in the 1960’s. Last month there was an interesting article in Slate magazine that detailed how Saskatchewan became ground-zero in its role of starting government-funded health care:

As in the United States today, opponents of the health reform plan weren’t sure whether to denounce the CCF [the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation party] as Communists or Nazis, so they did both. Protesters greeted [SK Premier Tommy] Douglas’ motorcade with Nazi salutes—when they weren’t throwing stones at it. Other opponents painted the hammer and sickle on the homes of people thought to be associated with the party.

The doctors made good on their threats: When the new health care plan was introduced on July 1, doctors across the province walked off the job. But the government was ready, flying in replacement doctors, mostly from Britain. The strike ended after three weeks, the health care plan stayed in place, and four years later, the Canadian government passed the Medical Care Act, which provided funding for every province to create a similar plan.

Douglas and his party were vindicated. Once their plan took effect, Shackleton writes, it “was soon so well accepted that no political party had the temerity to suggest its abolition.”

As we all know, Canada’s socialized medicine system stuck — and now, for the most part, it’s a point of pride for Canadians. (of course, it’s not perfect, and there’s always room for reform, but you’ll meet very few Canadians who are eager to privatize health care) In fact, a few years ago when there was a nation-wide contest for the “Greatest Canadian,” SK Premier Tommy Douglas won 1st place, solely for his political temerity to implement such a medical system in this country.

So while I’m dismayed at all the vicious (and dangerous) rhetoric that is being hurled right now by people who are opposed to reform, part of me does take heart that much of this sound and fury will hopefully diminish, once people can begin to benefit from what this bill will offer.

I’m patient enough to wait for Republicans who will eventually be as protective of this reform bill as they are now over Social Security and Medicare — both government-run programs that were initially vilified and denounced until they became sacrosanct to America’s citizens.

Until then, hold on for a bumpy ride.