An interesting poll surfaced yesterday, revealing that – in the days since health reform legislation was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives and signed into law by President Obama – more Americans have taken a favorable view of the legislation than they did before the vote.
Nearly 50 percent of those polled now say the legislation was “a good first step” that should be followed by more action.
Was the poll showing that more Americans had suddenly come to the realization that the health reform legislation really was a good thing? Nah. We think the poll simply shows that supporters of health reform can finally feel good about wanting change.
We think this poll wasn’t so much a poll as a mood ring.
Before the vote, the legislation’s supporters had been pummeled by the bill’s detractors for months. For every bit of evidence showing that the legislation would help millions of Americans, there was an equal or greater counterattack – saying the legislation would make insurance more expensive, that it would increase taxes, increase the federal deficit, increase the size of government.
And the arguments were not just that the logic behind the bill was unsound. The arguments suggested that anyone who supported the bill was reckless, or stupid, or naive, or preoccupied with a political victory, or unAmerican. The entire debate was the emotional beating that opponents intended it to be.
But we suspect that the passage of the legislation changed the mood of its supporters, including supporters who were beginning to think that the months of political wrangling had ultimately done more harm than good to the legislation.
Their mood had been deflated by months of watching Democrats stalled again and again as they attempted to fine tune legislation in response to each new attack. It was one thing for health reformers to promise that they would look before they leaped. It was another thing entirely for reformers to look before, during and after leaping.
Finally, reformers of health care realized that they’d been right all along – and voted their consciences. They realized that a complete failure to move forward would be more than a huge political liability. It would be a complete letdown for the millions of Americans who trusted Congress to do something to fix the system.
And when the reformers stood their ground, it restored their supporters’ confidence. They believed again. Change, it turns out, is not impossible.
Now, health reform is on track and – like motorists who have been stuck in traffic far too long – supporters are relieved and exhilarated to be moving forward. New scenery. Wind on our faces. The promise of a new and better destination for millions of us.
Our mood ring is decidedly dark blue.