Perhaps Tennessee has changed. Perhaps there is a growing new consensus. Perhaps there is even the beginnings of a new common sense.
There was a loss in the political sphere but in the public sphere it was no contest. I know of no newspaper, no TV station, no civic organization, no professional group, no group of faith leaders who said Insure Tennessee was a bad idea. Most of them were astounded that anyone could think it was anything less than a great idea. From public comments it appears most don’t really understand yet why it was even a issue. The main thing I hear is that it is a “no brainer.”
We have at least in the public world turned things on their ear. We have went in a few short months from talk of health care expansion being seen as unrealistic to health care expansion being the only realistic option. We did not win the this vote, but I believe we won the story.
Politics is slower than real life. It does not make public reality as much as might be considered. A law is needed but first and foremost hearts needed to be won and in large measure I think that was done. I think it takes legislators longer to see what others know. They reflect us more than they lead us and sometimes are so slow at picking up where to go.
Their is a difference between legislators driven by fear and those driven by passion and moral vision. The first worries about what will happen if they do. Simply too many legislators fear primary challenges from the tea party. So much for them seems to be in not taking chances or risking exposure and jumping on easy bandwagons that makes it look like what they do makes Tennessee better. The second group, those of moral vision, are more concerned with what happens if the don’t? Their concern is not with what people will think of them but what they think of themselves. And they know that if the only point of getting elected is to get re-elected perhaps there was no point to getting elected.
My hope is that legislators will come to know what others know, that they will care for what others care about and that they will act with courage for the people who have no where else to turn.
There have been some heroes in the legislature. How long has it been since we have had any legislative heroes? Most people in this country will tell you the biggest problem in this country is the government. It is so far past time for that to change.
What to do???
Tell the story. In your churches, at your jobs, in your communities tell the story: the story of a fair place to live that cares for all its citizens. Tell the story of a state where no one costs too much or is seen as disposable. Tell the story of a state where nobody dies because of public policy. Tell the story not of the sentence of poverty but of the possibilities of life. Tell the story of better life and the importance of the voices of each person in making that real. Tell the story of not backing down, not turning around, not being silent and the story of a state where each of us is neighbors to the other.
Grieve for people hurt, promises delayed and hope deferred. Grieve for lives to be lost that don’t have to be. But don’t let the grief of what happened define what can and will happen.
Tell the story and let us all walk on together.
Prayers, much love, much gratitude.
Till the end
Larry and Linda Drain