The eulogies are over. The limos are back in their stables. Now what? The end of an era, or business as usual? Was Kennedy a master lawmaker without whom Congress cannot function, or a guy who rode the culture of Camelot and family money for all it was worth? Does it matter? Is this, as Matt Taibbi suggested in the latest issue of Rolling Stone, the summer we will point to that marks the moment when our government lost us forever – by blowing healthcare reform – by escorting the elephant of social and financial deficits out of the room in hopes that somehow they enter an arc of self-correction?
Or, is this the moment when we realize we’ve got to do a work-around; when we come together to excuse our government from its illiberal internment and break a few rules to solve a huge problem. Is the colossus of insurance providers, drug companies, and their legions of lawyers too big to fail, or face reform? Is anyone, including President Obama, up to the task? Will he be, as Paul Krugman asks, the next FDR or Jimmy Carter? As with Kennedy’s death, does it matter?
The tipping point (a la Malcolm Gladwell) is staring us right in the face. Societies progress in a ragged and messy line—through phases of stability, revolution, chaos, and reformation. America is no different—maybe even the poster child due to its openness—its grip on liberty. Healthcare may be the fulcrum between order and disorder. Just take a look at those town hall faces. Time to hang on tight. It’s going to get much uglier before we know where we end up. One thing is for certain: doing nothing, or too little, is as dangerous as doing the wrong thing.
I say, it’s time to swing for the fences – while there are still fences.