Monday, January 11, 2010

President’s Letter

by Larry Geller

As the curtain rises on a new year and a new decade, America faces challenges that are more than economic. We the people, hoping for change in Washington, are learning that we’re still the audience rather than the playwrights. We may choose the actors, but we don’t write their lines or create the plot.

The current show is titled "Health Care Reform." Its patrons are the wealthy health insurers and drug companies. It’s no surprise that they get to write a happy ending for themselves. We may applaud or we may boo, but the show will go on despite the many critical reviews.

Act I was the passage of the House version of the reform bill, which includes a public option. It had its dramatic moments-for example, the last-minute inclusion of an outrageously restrictive anti-abortion provision that reverses a generation of gains in women’s rights.

In Act II the scene shifted to the Senate, where the action was punctuated by arrests of audience members demanding that single-payer be put on the table. It never was, though a public option lurked behind the arras until stabbed by a knife-wielding Senator Lieberman.

Critics are left to squabble among themselves whether these bills should be passed because they are the best we can get, or should be defeated because they are far worse than what we have. If we were truly in control of our government, since the majority favor publicly funded health care, we would have had it already. But politics is out of our hands. Our job as advocates in 2010, an election year, is to somehow reclaim our role and write the playbook ourselves.