I was in Washington DC last week during the historic Supreme Court deliberations on the national healthcare overhaul bill. The Court’s ruling in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) may be the most important one it decides in this generation, and it could redefine the federal government’s power and congresses authority to solve national problems.
The streets and parks in front of the Supreme Court building were filled with hundreds of people, both supporters and protesters. The energy was electric, with each side trying to out-shout the other, competing as to who could parade their signs in front of the cameras first, or sing God bless America louder.
When I was there protesters far exceeded the bills supporters. Most of them were older, white and had arrived in church sponsored buses. There were anarchists, socialists, libertarians and tea partiers, all stridently proclaiming the rightness of their views on liberty, freedom and justice.
My wife and I stood with signs supporting the bill (see photos). I was labeled everything from socialist to Dr. Kevorkian. But my discussions were conducted in a normal voice, and we listened to each other. Walking through the crowd with a smile was the Statue of Liberty, who announced happily that this is what freedom of speech looks like.
If the Court throws this back to Congress to create a better bill, I don’t think they can do it. There is no more divisive a community in this country than the U.S. Congress, whose partisanship only intensifies all that divides us.
It’s clear that we’ll never, not all of us, ever going to be on the same page. The question is can we bridge our divides to come together as Americans and make a decision about what’s best for most of our citizens? Surely we can’t leave 40 million Americans uninsured because it’s fundamentally immoral.
We the people, can find a place in the midst of the tumult where we can turn down the volume and listen to each other; a place where we can see the glass as half full, so that we can sing God Bless America better not louder.