Reflections on the Supreme Court health care ruling
The recent ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States on the Patient Protection and Affordable Healthcare Acts has a personal significance to me beyond just the merits of the law and the obvious disconnect between the dissenting opinion and any semblance of reality. This whole issue was for me, as Joe Biden so eloquently put it, "A big f***ing deal."
Prior to my current position as a senior developer at Drupal shop in NYC, I was working full time as the lead designer/developer at a Democratic political technology firm in DC, building Drupal sites for campaigns. That position affording me some very unique opportunities to meet a large number of high level politicians over the years (Barney Frank three times, Steny Hoyer, Jack Murtha, among others), but one in particular stands out above the rest.
Some time in th run-up to the 2006 midterm elections, I had the opportunity to attend a Red to Blue fundraiser hosted by the DCCC in DC. A whole case of characters was in attendence including a stereotypically dour Rahm Emanuel (who appeared to be in a perpetual huff all night) and Nancy Pelosi, the then future speaker of the House.
At some point in the evening, glass of wine in hand, I made my way over to her and eventually got my chance to talk to her. I said, "I'd like to tell you something - Tip O'Niell was wrong. All politics is not local, it's personal." I then proceeded to tell her what I meant. I had had a boyfriend who I'd been with for several years (and am still in touch with) who a year after we had broken up called me to tell me he was in the hospital and had tested positive for HIV. He was working two part-time jobs, had no insurance and couldn't afford it even without the pre-existing condition. Now he was guaranteed not to be able to get health insurance (he's doing well now thanks to one of the various organizations and programs like ADAP that help people in his position). I was very much worried about him and it angered me that he was subjected to the whims of a for-profit healthcare system that only cared for numbers and not people.
Pelosi's reaction was one I'll never forget. I was on the verge of tears as it was just telling the story and then she gave me a hug. Say what you will about the stereotypical politician, but this woman genunely cares about people and has made it her job to fight for everyon, not just the 1%.
I also remember well the day she signed the bill over to the Senate and said on national television, "All politics is personal." I cried when I saw that. Whether she got that from me or someone else, or hether she even remembers me at all from that night, but the impact of that was certainly not lost on me. Joe Biden was right - this was a big deal. For the first time after one hundred years of failed attempts, we had finally gotten passed what could at least be described as a solid first step towards fixing our healthcare system to work for everyone, not just those with a lot of money or jobs that had good benefits.
You can imagine my consternation, then, at the thought of an already highly politicized Ssupreme Court tearing all of that down and effectively telling everyone, "You're on your own and we don't care," before the law even had a chance to go into full effect. This conservative court has caused such harm, thanks to the capricious and often callous opinions of the conservative majority that I fully expected them to do so. It even appears now that they might almost have done so, with a last minute change by Chief Justice John Roberts casting the deciding vote to uphold the law.
I find it ironic and fitting that it would again be a Justice Roberts who made the "switch in time that saved nine" on one of the biggest social programs since Owen Roberts switched his opinion to upload Roosevelt's minimum wage law in 1937.
Now begins the work to continue improving on this historic legislation.