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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

For Whom the History Tolls

For Whom the History Tolls

The passage of universal health care is a monumental achievement on many different levels. One of the most important achievements of the bill’s passage is that it answered a question many of us have been lingering with for as long as we can remember. What kind of country have we become, and what kind of country do we want to be? It was not always as bad as it became. There used to be a time in America when we dreamed big and worked together for the common good; and not just in good times but in the worst. During the Great Depression, survival meant working with others and working for others. It meant that we bound ourselves together for a common cause and believed that would help us through our darkest hours. And it did. That sense of purpose was part of a new deal for the American people; and began with the popular idea that every single American ought to have guaranteed income when they retire. We would all pay in when we worked, and we could all take out when we grew old. That idea became Social Security and 75 years after it passed it remains arguably one of the most popular government programs in history. But that wasn’t all.               Our sense of common good got us through the Second World War and left us with a new purpose when we emerged from that war a prosperous and mighty nation. Having faith in a government of the people, by the people and for the people, Americans went to work to tackle the big challenges and right big wrongs. We saw our cities and states disconnected, and so in what became the largest public works program in history dedicated ourselves to building a massive interstate highway network; which we all enjoy today.               We saw elderly without proper medical care, and passed into law a program called Medicare, that guarantees every single American health care when they retire at age sixty-five. We saw it as our responsibility as Americans to take care of one another, and we did.               We saw part of our population was being kept from advancing and stuck in a racist system that denied them the creed of the founding document that all men are created equal; so we passed the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965. We saw a great deal of Americans were too poor to stand up on their own; and so we declared a War on Poverty; expanding on aid programs from the Depression, and created a whole new set of initiatives to help our fellow Americans stand tall once again.               We did all these things because we knew we could, and because we knew we should. We knew when we work together and reach for the common purposes of society, we all benefit; but even more so we held a fundamental belief that it is a moral obligation that we care for the least among us. We decided that we did not want to just be a nation of individuals only living for themselves; but as we are all one nation, one people who ought to make sure that in the richest country on earth, everyone of us should enjoy a basic economic security that is the cornerstone of freedom in any society. “For, in the final analysis,” John Kennedy once said, “our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.”               But something changed. War in Vietnam divided us and subsequent recessions demoralized us. A new cry from the corners of the conservative movement declared that we should each look out for ourselves, and not anyone else. We should not look for government to do big things and help us provide for everyone in society; we should hate government.               The movement was lead by the charismatic Ronald Reagan and ushered in a new era in America; one where government was demonized and the idea of looking out for our fellow Americans was socialism. We were told not to tackle big challenges, but sit home and only worry for ourselves. And it worked. Since 1980 hardly a single major piece of social legislation was enacted by the government; instead previous programs were attacked and destroyed. Our ability to dream big and our sense of responsibility to one another seemed like a bygone era never to come again.               But it did. With the signing of the health care bill; for the first time in nearly half a century the government passed a major piece of social legislation that will make life better for millions of Americans. We declared at long last that health care is a basic human right and more importantly that we have a moral responsibility to look out for our fellow citizens. We dared to dream big and against difficult odds came a monumental achievement. They say the darkest part of night is just before dawn. Today it feels like morning in America.