Just a few hours ago, U.S. Rep. Baron Hill announced his support for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as "Health Care Reform." Hill's announcement follows that of U.S. Rep. Brad Ellsworth's own announcement toward the same action, made just a scant 24 hours earlier.

The twin announcements, by two of the bluest-blue dog Democrats in the House, marks the beginning of the end of what has been a long, rancorous and frustrating battle.

A good fight, to be sure, a fight to bring forward a process and a service first hinted at, whispered, over a half century ago by Harry Truman. A fight to redefine access to health care not as some kind of Malthusian market struggle, not as the simple rational choice of humans engaged in a straightforward cost-benefit-opportunity calculus no different than selecting and buying, say, wide-screen TVs or iPods but rather as a basic human right, the kind guaranteed and delivered by any self-respecting advanced civilization.

"Yes Virginia, there is a difference between the parties."
Is it perfect? Of course not. Does it move us closer to a more perfect union? Of course it does. And the coalescing of support for the act by those who wear the Democratic label does both those wearing the label and the label itself a great service. For, if nothing else, it serves as a stark reminder to the disenfranchised, to the terminally cynical, that labels matter. That, yes Virginia, there is a difference between the parties.

Between the party that, although it sometimes had to be dragged kicking and screaming onto the right side of history, nonetheless got itself there eventually. Contrasted with the party of "no," the party that wrecked America. The party of tea baggers and corporate water carriers. The party that last could claim a material contribution toward the improvement of the human species and of life here on Earth in the 19th-century, when Lincoln emancipated the slaves.

And not since.

Forging a course forward, a cautionary reflection

Unfortunately the popular mind has been educated away from the truth, away from common sense. The average man has been taught to believe what his own common sense, if he relied on it, would tell him was absurd. "Now, at last, under the teaching of hard experience, there may be some slight improvement toward wiser counsels." - John Maynard KeynesEven remedies of a right tendency have become discredited because of the failure of a timid and vacillating application of them. Now, at last, under the teaching of hard experience, there may be some slight improvement toward wiser counsels. But through lack of foresight, and constructive imagination, the financial and political authorities of the world have lacked the courage or the conviction at each stage of the decline to apply the available remedies in sufficiently drastic doses; and by now they have allowed the collapse to reach a point where the whole system may have lost its resiliency and its capacity for a rebound.

Nothing could be a greater advantage to the world than that the United States should solve her own domestic problems, and, by solving them, provide the stimulus and the example to other countries. But observing from a distance, -- a nearer view of the prospect might modify my pessimism, -- I am unable to imagine a course of events which could restore health to American industry in the near future. I even fancy that, so far from the United States giving the example, she will herself have to wait for stimulus from outside.

John Maynard Keynes, May 1932

Can someone forward that to Mitch Daniels?

Gregory Travis can be reached at greg@littlebear.com.