Sunday, November 17, 2013
Photo: President Bush and President-Elect Obama meet in the Oval Office on November 10, 2008. From Obama's Wikipedia page.
This isn't exactly a political rant, so stay with me if you felt like leaving because of that. It's more of a plea, I guess.
There are so many Republicans slamming Obama for the recent website problems, and for what some are perceiving as his sleight-of-hand about being able to keep current policies. (I don't know about that. Though both parties have their hands in the health care industry's pockets, which one do you think counts more on money from it? I'll provide a hint: It's the party that's not trying to change it.) Some Democrats seem to think that his ship is sinking.
It's not--though it has taken a torpedo hit.
The bottom line here is that there's a website that's not working right.
There's an insurance industry that said one thing to Obama and then did another.
Or, in fairness, perhaps the President himself said one thing to the insurance industry, then did the other.
My guess is that it's both. And surely the right hand didn't know what the left hand was doing here.
But that's all. It's surely a mess. It looks bad. It's Obama's biggest misstep so far. And what was he thinking when he hired a Canadian internet company to do an American website? This is bad enough, in terms of our economy--and even worse when you consider that Canada itself fired this internet company when it flubbed work for Canada.
Maybe Obama didn't make that decision himself, but the buck stops with him, and he'll say the same himself.
But let's take a step back.
Did we actually think that overhauling the American healthcare industry would be easy? Is a radical change ever simple? And what's wrong with trying to change American socio-economic parity as we know it? Wouldn't you think there'd be a few mistakes along the way?
This is ground-level health care and social upheaval, and we thought a mouse click would make it all perfect? That there wouldn't be mistakes, "fumbles," and some honest errors and humane shortsightedness?
So the site doesn't work.
It'll get fixed.
It's the first huge step for equity in health care in this country, something that hopefully narrows the gap between the rich and the poor. A simple website won't make it all happen by itself, but it's a step in the right direction.
And it'll get better.
Let's all stop rattling our sabres against those who try to make drastic change for the better good and who make a few mistakes while doing so. Are we not to have groundbreaking change unless it's quick and easy and perfect? Drastic change is never easy. And no one thing--health care or anything else--is going to be perfect for everyone, all at the same time.
Yes, Obama dropped the ball here. But he cared enough to try to make the play to begin with. He'll pick it up again. He'll learn from his mistakes. My guess is he doesn't like to be wrong, at all. He knows that this will be one of the biggest things he'll be remembered for--good or bad.
And here's one more sports metaphor for you: an infielder who gets to more grounders (and who therefore has more range) will make more errors than will an infielder who never gets to the ball to begin with. This second infielder will have a misleadingly and superficially better fielding percentage--he'll make fewer errors--because he won't attempt a great play if he thinks there's a chance he'll make an error.
Those who try to make great plays will make more mistakes than those who don't.
Possibly Obama's reach has exceeded his grasp here. But he attempted to make the play that nobody else could--or would, or wanted to--and then he bobbled it. And then he dropped it.
But he tried to make the play.
Let's applaud that. And let's have some patience as he makes the play without a drop next time. Or would we rather have a nation of leaders who don't try to ever again make a great and sweeping change for fear of such an impatient and unforgiving public and political backlash?
He was at least brave enough to chance failure.
And then he failed.
But that's temporary.
Let's understand that most politicians would never have attempted such legislation and change to begin with, specifically because of the very real probability of failure, and of the fear of the political finger-pointing afterward.
Nobody would know the stakes better than the first black President in American history. Aware of the severe ramifications, he tried anyway.
Let's be proud of those who selflessly take chances for the better good.
And let's help them fix their mistakes rather than blaming them for their very humane imperfections.
Unless we have a better idea to create beneficial social change for the good of those less fortunate than ourselves--and I didn't see anybody else trying anything lately--let's help those who do, and not just point our fingers at them.
P.S.--According to his website, the health insurance marketplace is once again open. Try it now, if you need to. Give it a chance, and be thankful, as I always am, when someone tries to help. Because, correct me if I'm wrong, but people don't often go out of their way to help change people's lives, do they?