Yesterday, President Obama signed the healthcare reform bill into law. The bill was passed on Sunday night by the United States Congress and will enable the vast majority of Americans to have access to affordable medical care. This was one of the key issues that Barack Obama set his sights on from his first day in office. By summer last year, the debates over healthcare across the US were degenerating into nasty and sometimes, racist spectacles. Despite everything the Republicans said to the contrary, it was quite clear that they were not interested in proposing or supporting a solution to the problem. They only seemed to care about making Obama look bad and blocking his efforts completely. At that point, the chances of the bill passing looked very slim. Fast forward about 8 months and the bill is reality.
While I could never understand how people could be so bitterly opposed to something as fundamental as healthcare I have to say that both sides were very passionate about their positions. On Saturday, the Rules Committee worked for over 13 hours on amendments to the bill. On Sunday, the members of the House of Representatives gathered at 1pm ET for the final battle over the healthcare bill. They did not finish till late that night. They were in there debating and voting for at least 10 hours! That’s what you call commitment. In my opinion, that’s how you carry out the job of being the peoples’ representative.
No matter how wrong or misguided I may consider the opinions of some of American senators, I cannot deny that they fight hard for what they think is the right path for their country to take. And that’s why the United States is where it is today.
I wonder when Nigerian senators will find equivalent passion for the welfare and future of Nigerians. Will they campaign for over a year to ensure that Nigerians get ‘socialised’ medicine? Or a ‘socialised’ educational system?
It’s easy to be cynical about inspirational lines like ‘yes we can’ and ‘change we can believe in’ but if I have learnt anything from watching Barack Obama’s presidency, it’s that we as citizens and politicians have to care if we want to see any progress. Nigerians can definitely take notes from Americans on this.
I’ll end with a few lines from the speech Obama delivered after the vote on Sunday.
…….This is what change looks like….In the end what this day represents is another stone firmly laid in the foundation of the American dream. Tonight we answered the call of history that so many generations of Americans have before us. When faced with crisis, we did not shrink from our challenge. We overcame it. We did not avoid our responsibility, we embraced it. We did not fear our future. We shaped it.