CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- It was on the second anniversary of the death of Robert C. Byrd (the senator who cast the deciding vote for the Affordable Care Act, derisively termed "ObamaCare" by those opposed and who wish so vividly to defeat, not the issue, but the man) that the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the law.
Of course, those who would destroy the president using any means necessary mewl and cry and suggest (at the top of their lungs) "Repeal!" Of course, those who would preserve the presidency for the incumbent posture and brag and suggest (also at the top of their lungs) "Leadership!"
Neither should count for a glass of yellow creek water.
What should count is that the divide that has separated Americans from affordable, accessible healthcare, a River of Gold built on the greed of the drug industry, the medical corporate giants, the insurance industry, even Madison Avenue (always remember, no one makes more money off the advertising for expensive medical procedures) has now been bridged.
We now will see whether we will move to simply destroy that bridge via repeal, or seize the chance to cross it and pave a better road.
You see, over the last two years most of the really strong criticism of the law has been rooted in what the fear-mongers have been driving as their catch phrase. "What does this new law mean for me?" The question, granting a new global economy we must compete in and a world increasingly willing to purchase its goods elsewhere, should be "What does this new law do for us?" How does it affect our future? Our future.
A long time ago, someone once said along the lines that as we rejoice together in the Joy of the One, we must also divide the Sorrows of All.
"Me" can't win this. The law is certainly flawed and will require a lot of revamping and re-structuring, and I frankly am not sure Congress is up to it. But simply blowing up this new bridge, no matter how ugly and frail it may appear today, will just put all of us in that river, already at our feet and rising.
Using our "division of sorrows," as Americans have throughout history, and collectively working to strengthen, and make more serviceable the device at hand, is by far the best, most logical, and least polarizing choice. There is no timber in that bridge that can't be reviewed, replaced or moved. But if the forces that contended in its building just allow it to go down into the deep, and then remain separated by partisan rhetoric on either shore, the drowning will begin in earnest.
The debate has been ongoing and, where it has been civil and rooted in factual argumentation it has been productive. But America is tiring of the invective and the genuine mean-spirited partisanship that has developed. Let's move on, do what we do, make it work and work better, and refuse to allow either Democrats or Republicans to take credit for what finally gets done.
Health care is not a party issue. It is a people issue. We the people will solve it, not we the party. No looking back, just forward from here together.
Perdue, D-Wayne, is chairman of the House Health and Human Resources Committee.