I had changed my registration from Democrat to Independent, and I had blacked out the top of the "h" on my Obama bumper sticker, so that it read, "Got nope" instead of "got hope." I felt like he had let down the struggling middle class. My son and I had campaigned for him, but since he took office, we felt he had let us down.When I read those words, I got a chill. These are words by Spike Dolomite Ward, a breast cancer patient and an Obama volunteer in 2008 who felt that the President had let her down, and who now calls ObamaCare a "lifesaver - perhaps literally." The plan she is talking about is the Pre-existing Conditions Insurance Plan (PCIP), provided under the Affordable Care Act with a federal funding of $5 billion as a bridge for patients with pre-existing conditions until 2014, when the exchanges start, pre-existing conditions discrimination ends forever and the subsidies kick in.
So this is my public apology. I'm sorry I didn't do enough of my own research to find out what promises the president has made good on. I'm sorry I didn't realize that he really has stood up for me and my family, and for so many others like us. I'm getting a new bumper sticker to cover the one that says "Got nope." It will say "ObamaCares."
Spike is not someone who was predisposed to dislike the President, and as we see, she is certainly an American willing to let facts change her mind. But for her, it took staring cancer down to realize that the Affordable Care Act is saving her life, and that "ObamaCare" is the answer to the prayers of so many to fix our broken health care system. Whose job was it to keep her informed throughout the health care debate? Who were claiming to be the vanguard of progressivism and denying her the opportunity to have information about how the ACA could change her life, instead engaging in what they thought was a "fight" in order to amplify legislative ponies to the point where the legislative meat got all shoved aside?
Spike's story is not uncommon. There's been very little coverage of what health reform has done to change lives in the media - Left, Right and "center." For example, chances are that you have no idea that the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Studies has just released data showing that ObamaCare has saved seniors on Medicare $1.5 billion in prescription drug expenses in just the last year.
Sure, our media failed. And it continues to fail. But that is not new, and that is not news. And someone who's campaigned for the President in 2008, I doubt, is getting their news and opinions off of Fox News or the Wall Street Journal. So there's some specific people in the media (both online and offline) that we have to look at here who have misinformed and lied to people like her. When I say people like her, I mean progressives and ordinary Americans who put their trust in President Obama, who gave their time and money to make this country a better place during the course of the 2012 campaign.
Not to put too fine a point on this, but the people who failed Spike and numerous other Americans are the same people who have branded themselves True ProgressivesTM in the media and berated those of us who actually pointed out the benefits at the time of the debate as paid shills, corporatists and sellouts. They are the same people who, in the name of defending progressive values, refused to consider the impact of legislation on the lives of ordinary people, choosing instead the easy path of generating hysteria and gaining infamy by having a fit about an incomplete ideological checklist. They are the same people who proudly make up the "Left" media. They are Ed Schultz, Jane Hamsher, Firedoglake, Michael Moore, Daily Kos, Cornel West, Cenk Uygur, Keith Olbermann, and so on and so forth.
It is they who decided that doing nothing about our health care system was an option in their zeal to kill the bill. It is they who decided that if we could not get a weak public option that would cost more than private insurance, then Spike Dolomite Ward should not have been able to get this lifeline that she got through the ACA. They are the ones who decided that if the President didn't pound enough podiums, then it was fine for seniors to have to pay $1.5 billion extra over the past year for prescription drugs. They are the ones who went out and told people like Spike that there was no point to voting in 2010 since the Democrats and the president "caved" on pony demands on their checklists, and because, you know, there wasn't a clear enough difference between the parties. Damn the progress we made, they told us, because in their eyes, it wasn't big enough or fast enough. They are the ones who saw an opportunity in manufacturing outrage based on a pre-ordained frame ("Obama is weak") rather than doing the hard work of legislative research and analyzing how provisions may affect the lives of the least fortunate and the middle class. The Professional Leftists are the ones that saddled this country with Speaker Boehner.
Make no mistake. It is not that they didn't know. It's not that they didn't know that the Affordable Care Act, even without a public option, was an incredible piece of progressive legislation that included a patients' bill of rights on steroids, closed the Medicare prescription drug benefit donut hole, massively expanded Medicaid and the community health centers, let young adults stay on their parents' plan until age 26, and included numerous other lifesaving benefits for ordinary people. It's not that they didn't know about the PCIP. They knew. They didn't care. They didn't care because their ideological checklist was dearer to them than the lives and quality of life of their fellow Americans. And that's the kindest way I can put it.
Will Spike's story teach these Professional Whiners a lesson? Will they apologize for lying to unsuspecting progressives who trusted them? Will they apologize for trying to kill a law that is literally keeping people alive? Will they apologize for calling this President a weak sellout? Will they apologize for damaging the progressive cause, demoralizing liberal voters in 2010 and forestalling the progress we could have made this year and the next if this president had a Democratic Congress?
I wouldn't hold my breath. But I would learn ourselves a lesson from this. Don't trust people who value their ideological talking points more than the lives of ordinary citizens. And don't delude yourself by thinking that people who do that only exist on one side of the political isle. Don't fool yourself and think that putting ideological hardlines over progress is a sign of strength. It is nothing more than a sign of self-serving cowardice. Don't fall for it. Come to the pragprog blogging network - we have an amazing array of blogs and sites that will keep you informed on specific issues, tell you the truth, and focus on making progress rather than ideological warfare. And we won't act like we know everything about everything.