Friday, 06 July 2012 01:53

American History: Shaped and Defined by Few Individuals, Legislations, and Supreme Court Decisions Like the Latest On Health Care Reform s

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by Dr. Wumi Akintide This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

From New York, USA, Dr. Wumi Akintide published this article on Sunday, July 1, 2012 to highlight AMERICAN HISTORY as it is SHAPED AND DEFINED BY FEW INDIVIDUALS, LEGISLATIONS AND SUPREME COURT DECISIONS, LIKE THE LATEST ON HEALTH CARE REFORM. I happen to have read this article with interest and I think you might like it for the significant insight it brought forward in the American contemporary presidential politics and political party complexes and controversies. What can Nigerian learn from this critical development?

 

According to Dr. Wumi, it matters very little what many of us reading this piece think of America, one thing the whole world cannot take away from America or totally ignore is her leadership role in the world as a unique experiment in Democratic Government the world has ever come to know. America, more than any other nation I am using for this comparison, has always been blessed with more leaders, men and women who have always had the courage of their convictions to do what is right for their country even when their lone voices in the wilderness are quite often drowned out by partisan bickering and complaints from many on both sides of the political divide who pretend to love America more than those patriots.

The beauty of America is that everything is documented and preserved for generations yet unborn. The Republicans are always ever ready to put a negative spin on many if not all of signature achievements of this nation's first black President who has proved himself equal to the job like most of his white predecessors like Abraham Lincoln, FDR, Harry Truman, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton to mention just a few. I, for one appreciate God and thank God for America for picking the young President who reminds us of the most appealing side of JFK and being a hybrid of black and white and a product of a bi-racial cultures in his youth. He is as tough as a nail and as charismatic as they come. His sensitivity to those cultures and the challenges they pose for a man of power like him are better imagined than described.

If the Republicans have any dirt to dig up on him and his first lady beyond creating some silly or naive doubts about whether or not he was born in Hawaii or Kenya, they would have done that longest time. The guy is squeaky-clean and he meets his white counterparts or rivals pound for pound any way you slice it. God really did his homework in ordaining him as the man to lead the Blacks in America to the promised land of the most powerful job in America. I said it before and I would repeat it again that the same combination of factors that brought him this far are bound to kick in again to see him triumph over his perceived rivals or political enemies one more time. Very few expect the Republican-dominated Supreme Court to side with Obama on his Health Care initiative but they did in a mysterious way.

That was God at work. The other 8 judges voted purely on party lines but the biggest of them all and the Chief Justice tipped the balance in Obama's favor because God was using Justice Robert to carry out his permissive will. Republicans and Mitt Romney could belittle, distract and frustrate Obama all they want. God has neutralized the greatest weapon they were hoping to use against Obama few months to the election. No weapon fashioned against Obama will prevail because he did not put himself there. The Almighty God did. The other economic weapon Republicans were going to use against him is also going to fizzle out in a miraculous way before the election leaving the Republicans nothing left in their arsenal to dislodge the Commander-in-Chief other than total surrender as they rethink their strategy to remain relevant in the power configuration of America. The falling price of fuel is the first sign of this prediction. Few more signs will become manifest as we enter the final leg of the Marathon race.

I am not worried at all about Republicans threatening brimstone and fire for losing at the Supreme Court. They have to do that to rally their base. They said pretty much the same thing in 1933 when FDR launched his social welfare reform package that has virtually remained on the statute book now for 79 years and counting the last time I checked. I recall FDR telling the Republicans to bury their hatchet at that point by assuring them the package a temporary measure subject to repeal or amendment once the terrible recession was over. The Republicans have continuously waged a war of attrition for 79 years trying to repeal the Law but they have always failed because the Law is fundamentally helpful to the silent majority of the people. Every subsequent effort made to repeal it has met with stiff opposition every step of the way. I can tell you that once the other critical provisions of the Law kick in starting from 2014, the Republicans would come to realize they face an uphill task trying to repeal the Law.

It is harder to take something away after it has already been given. Mitt Romney is lying by telling the nation he would immediately repeal the Law if elected. It is a promise he cannot keep even if his party controls a razor-blade thin majority in Congress which is not likely, given what we know today. But the plain truth is that Romney cannot win because he is swimming against the tide right now and he lacks the core convictions to get him to where he needs to be for this election before he can have any hope of winning in November. Why should voters settle for a candidate whose track record has shown he is a weather cock with no abiding faith in any direction other than where the wind is blowing? That is the problem. Obama on the other hand has delivered on most of his promises to the voters with the exception of one or two, the closing of Guantanamo Base being one of them due to logistic details he could not have fully grasped as a candidate running for President. Osama Bin Laden is history today and Al Qaeda in total disarray. Minorities and Hispanic immigrants who play by the rule now have a leeway to citizenship if they take advantage of Obama's executive order which he rarely used. President Bush Jnr. used it 6 times, Bill Clinton 14 times and even Ronald Reagan a few times. So what is the big deal? Why, for goodness sake, are the Republicans crying wolf where there is none.

A few weeks ago Mitt Romney on the campaign trail, was putting all the blame for the rise in the cost of fuel squarely on Obama's shoulders as if the American President is the Decider-in-Chief in the OPEC Cartel. Now that the price is going down, you no more hear Mitt Romney talking about it or praising Obama for the downward trend. It is simply astounding that Republicans, who have no qualms urging America to continue fighting wars all over the world and to keep rebuilding Iraq and Afghanistan while the American infrastructures namely roads and bridges are falling apart, would be opposed to the national Government spending money to make medical coverage accessible to poor and needy Americans at home. Health Care Reform in America is an absolute necessity, and there is an urgent need to regulate Insurance companies from taking undue advantage of the insured and more so for people with pre-existing conditions who may not find it easy to get coverage because the Insurance companies are all about making profit and would run away from giving coverage to such people with that kind of risk.

American History is defined by few individuals and institutions which place the nation's interest above the profit motive. Abraham Lincoln, a Republican was that kind of man with the Slave Emancipation Proclamation he had managed to sign into law despite stiff opposition from his fellow slave owners and his party big Whigs. FDR, a Democrat was that kind of man when he managed to sign into Law the Social Welfare Reform Package for the nation at a time the great majority of the people needed a helping hand. Barack Obama, the nation's first black President is certainly that kind of man. He came to the office promising to level the playing field and to promote freedom for all and life more abundant by making sure everyone is given the opportunity to be the best he or she can be. Republicans instinctively understand that if they allow Obama to succeed, they can forget getting back the presidency any time soon. That is why they do not just want him to fail; they are putting obstacles on his way every step of the way because they know they cannot win if Obama succeeds. Thank God. The Supreme Court does not have the same kind of mind set. Their role is to decide if the Health Care Reform Law is constitutional or not, and they have said yes thus giving Obama the greatest victory he could ever hope for within 4 to 5 months to the end of his first term. What a sweet victory?

Had the Supreme Court declared the Law unconstitutional, the Republicans would have been seeking to impeach the President for breaking the Law and for achieving nothing. If they are today holding Attorney-general Eric Holder for contempt on trumped-up charges, their real target is the President. The Supreme Court declaring the Health Care Reform Law illegal would have meant that the signature achievement of Obama in his first 2 years in office has been rubbished by the highest Court in the Land. And since his remaining 2 years have been compounded by the result of the mid-term elections in 2010, Obama would have had an uphill task asking the voters to re-elect him again and the Republicans would have been urging the Nobel Peace Authorities in Norway to reconsider withdrawing his Nobel Peace award just to embarrass him and therefore make it that much harder for him to win re-election just like they did to Jimmy Carter when Ronald Reagan ran against him.

Like I predicted before in all of my previous articles, the good Lord is not finished with this President yet. I happen to be one of the three people that predicted that the Supreme Court is going to uphold the Healthcare Law. I made that prediction on the presumption that the 9 wise individuals at the Court are human beings like the rest of us. They all have children and family members who would no doubt benefit from the Law and I was sure they would do the right thing and I said so loud and clear and I have been vindicated. I was not alone in my prediction. I recall the former Labor Secretary, Professor Robert Reich of MIT and President Bill Clinton making the same prediction presumably for other reasons. The truth is that we have all been proved right.

The refusal of the Supreme Court to uphold the Law would have meant the end of the Obama presidency because the Republicans would have said "we told you so" They would have gone ahead to further embarrass the President by calling on him to resign because he has failed to uphold his oath of office. They would have blown the whole conundrum out of proportion to give Mitt Romney something to gloat about.

Now that they have all failed the best they could do is what they are doing now saying Americans should vote for Mitt Romney if they want the Law repealed. They are saying they have lost confidence in the rule of Law because it has not favored them. They have now declared Chief Justice Robert a persona non grata for speaking the truth. It is now up to the voters to judge and to decide who is more believable between the Republicans and the Democrats. The support of the Supreme Court for the democratic side of the debate has clearly put the Democrats at a clear advantage because they have been right all along.

What Obama has done in signing the Health Care Reform Law is no different from what great Presidents before him have always done. President Lyndon B. Johnson was the architect of the Great Society Legislation he championed. He worked hard to pass it knowing fully well the decision could cost him his second term and could, for a long time, make it far much harder for his party to ever again gain traction in much of the South. He did it nonetheless because he thought it was the right thing to do because it was morally correct but politically unwise. Richard Nixon, a Republican rather than making a permanent enemy or rival of China decided to make overtures to China and to open it up because he knew it was the right thing to do.

Ronald Reagan a Democrat-turned Republican who was often labeled "the cow boy President" had the wisdom to lead America to win the cold war against the Soviet Union he once described as the "Evil Empire". He took steps that led to the reunification of West and East Germany. He did it without going into war and he did with class and finesse never before witnessed in the country by finding a willing ally in arguably the greatest Speaker in American History, the great Tip Oneil of Massachusetts, a dye-in-the wool democrat who believed like Ronald Reagan that America's better days are ahead of her and that America's interest is better served when the two major political parties work together. That was long before the Tea party Mafia in the Republican Party came on board.

Gentleman George Bush the First would rather lose the presidency than walk away from what he knew was a must and an absolute necessity for America by taking a hike from his campaign commitment never to raise taxes. Bill Clinton pretty much did the same thing when he stood his ground and won when he urged the Republicans to not end but mend social welfare reform and public assistance to the needy and the poor in society. At the risk of losing his second term, President Clinton stood his ground against the Republicans, found some ways to walk in a bi-partisan fashion with Newt Gingrich as Speaker of the House even though Newt had engineered the Republican kangaroo court to impeach him on the Monica Lewinski scandal. President Clinton ended up creating 22 million jobs and turning the American economy around while turning the deficit into a plus in 8 years of purposeful leadership and economic wizardry.

The individuals that have made such a big difference in America are not Presidents alone. They include ordinary Americans of different political labels and persuasions. Time will not permit me to name them all but a few names will make the point. Justice O'Connor and Justice Anthony Kennedy have always been the voice of reason at the Supreme Court. They are known to cross party lines to do what they think is right for America. Senator Orrin Hatch, Senator Richard Lugar and retired Republican senator from Maine, Olympia Snowe, Arizona Senator John McCain, former Senator Simpson and many others from the Democratic party like late Senator Moynihan from New York, former Congressman Panetta now Defense Secretary, Senator Russ Feingold, Senator Dick Durbin and the late Lion of Congress, the one and only Ted Kennedy, are important names among others. They are names among leaders on both sides of the isle who would walk across party lines to do what they think is in the best interest of America.

Health Care Reform nation-wide has been among the pet projects of Ted Kennedy before his death and without his support for Mitt Romney in Massachusetts there was no way in the world Mitt Romney could have passed his Health Care Reform package which has worked so well in Massachusetts where close to 98% of the people in that state and 100% of all children and disabled people are now covered by one health insurance or the other. They include patients with pre-existing conditions that may not have insurance coverage from their jobs but can still go to the open market to get coverage at affordable price.

President Obama figured it out that the Massachusetts model could be adopted nation-wide with modifications here and there to make it acceptable and more cost-effective by regulating the insurance companies and reducing fraud to the barest minimum. He spent much of his capital in the first 2 years of his presidency in persuading the Republicans to work with him in a bi-partisan fashion to make at least a down payment on Health Care Reform because he knew like most of us that a legislation as massive as Health Care Reform cannot be done in one sweeping legislation. It should be continuous work in progress of reform to respond to the needs and changing times. Getting it started is all the very most important strive. Like the Emancipation Legislation or the Social Welfare Reform, it can, and should be improved with subsequent legislations later on to fine-tune it. Repeal as suggested by Mitt Romney is therefore totally out of the question. One who is out of touch with the compelling American health care need and reality even with his own legislation in Massachusetts as a Governor is sort of bizarre to understand today? The argument around the phrase "individual mandate" to be explained as a tax or penalty or deduction makes it even harder to understand his own baseline giving.

The Congress can surely amend few of his provisions as time goes by, but talking of outright repeal is total nonsense that is going to be a disaster for the Republicans and Mitt Romney in the November elections. Those who have taken pains to read the 2700 pages would readily agree the Bill is not bad at all. I will admit it is not a perfect document and it can be infinitely improved just like anything made by man. If the Supreme Court decision has galvanized the Republican base to come out and vote in November, we should also remember the decision has also galvanized the Democratic base and the Independents who are going to be the wild cat in the coming election.

The more than 46 million people who are going to be beneficiaries of this Legislation are not going to sit idly by while waiting for Mitt Romney to dash their hopes if he ever gets to the White House. The great antidote of course is to stop Mitt Romney cold before ever getting there. The Health Care Reform Law which has just been upheld by the Supreme Court is a struggle for the soul of Health Insurance in the greatest Democracy on Earth. Republican from Wisconsin, Senator Johnson calling it "a body blow to Freedom in America" because of the individual mandate provision in it is talking nonsense.

What the Republicans equate to raising tax for the people is not all that different from what happens when a driver is given a speeding ticket. The ultimate goal is to save life and protect the other road users. The Health Law making it mandatory for everybody to have medical coverage at affordable price is quite consistent with the role of Government to save life because no human being is immune to sickness. The Republicans who are opposing the Law today are going to be among the greatest beneficiaries from the Law down the road because they all have families who are susceptible to sickness and diseases just like the rest of us.

Barrack Obama did the right thing by hoping to extend to the rest of the country what Mitt Romney backed by Ted Kennedy had been able to successfully do in Massachusetts. Mitt Romney has clearly pinned himself to a corner by coming out to challenge or repudiate everything he has done in Massachusetts. Now that the Supreme Court has upheld the Health Care Law with a one vote majority by Chief Justice Robert himself, the die is cast for the Republicans. They can complain from now to Eternity, their cry-baby complaint is going to change nothing. A win is a win. Obama deserves to win again and win bigger this time around.

George Bush the Second who lost the popular vote against Al Gore became President in 2000 on a 5 to 4 vote at the Supreme Court. The Democrats criticized that decision to the high Heavens just like the Republicans are doing today by putting their own spin on the Court verdict while condemning Chief Justice Robert for casting the decisive vote against them. Justice Robert did the right thing and History is going to honor him for so doing.

I cannot wait to see Mitt Romney and Obama give their acceptance speeches at their party's Convention. That is where they are going to reframe their qualifications for the Presidency and follow it up with a one-to-one debate where each of them will be free to ask themselves questions and directly speak to the nation.

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Patrick Iroegbu Ph.D

Patrick Iroegbu is a Social and Cultural (Medical) Anthropologist and lectures Anthropology in Canada. He is the author of Marrying Wealth, Marrying Poverty: Gender and Bridewealth Power in a Changing African Society: The Igbo of Nigeria (2007). He equally co-ordinates the Kpim Book Series Project of Father-Prof. Pantaleon Foundation based at Owerri, Nigeria. Research interests include gender and development, migration, race and ethnic relation issues, as well as Igbo Medicine, Social Mental Health and Cultural Studies.

Website: www.igbomedicine.webs.com