Tonight I write with a real sense of grief. Donald Trump had won overwhelmingly in the Tennessee Republican primary. Republicans in Tennessee wanted to wait until they saw if we were going to have a Republican president before they dealt with Insure Tennessee. Waiting to see if Donald Trump is going to be elected and if he is what exactly he is going to do doesn’t seem to be very reassuring.
Insure Tennessee we are told is politically inconvenient and the smart money says to not worry and wait until next year when the election won’t be in the way and it is a new ballgame. I wonder if Tennessee Republicans will run out of reasons to avoid dealing with something they just wish would go away. Will Trumps victory make anyone feel like the risk of a primary challenger is less if they decide next year to support Insure Tennessee?? I just don’t think so. I can’t help but wonder if political inconvenience is not just a ready excuse for fear of the political consequence of stepping forward. And I don’t see how another year fixes that. I am not really really sure that a Democratic win changes that. Will Bill Haslam suddenly develop courage??? Will he suddenly become Governor for all Tennesseans? Will Insure Tennessee become something more than what he hopes we can do if the politics allow it? Under what scenario will it become something we must do? When will the moral imperative of health care reform actually become an imperative? Is it a simple matter of another year? Excuse me for being cynical but I see no reason to believe that.
Let me say one of the most politically incorrect things I have ever said and one of the things I most strongly don’t want to say. Insure Tennessee is dead for this year. I hope I am wrong and am more than willing to pay any penance for being wrong. I just don’t think I am.
This does not mean I think we should quit or anything like that. It means that reality accepted is better than illusion maintained. And the truth is, and I tell myself this every day, no one, least of all me knows for sure.
I think the best thing to do when you are in despair over what you control is to not lose sight of what you do control. We do not control what the legislature will do. We control what we do.
If we are to lose it is most important we control how we lose. We must control how we continue the fight. We must control how that lose is framed and what it means. And that is so important.
Insure Tennessee must be more than the victim of political convenience. Everyone must know and know loudly that it is moral necessity, moral imperative ignored and denied. They must know that this did not happen because the legislature was faced with impossible circumstances but that they did not have the courage or will to do what was possible and right. How we end defines where we start next time.
Many people can’t wait. Their medical challenges know no political calendar. And people will die that don’t need to die. They deserve that we go neither quietly or meekly.
There will be a vote in two weeks that may be the last hurrah this year for Insure Tennessee. A democratic representative has proposed a resolution to make it legal for Bill Haslam to be Governor of the state of Tennessee and implement a plan to help 280,000 Tennesseans who have waited a long time for help from anyone. The response of those who who advocate for Insure Tennessee I hope will be loud and clear.
I hope not. I pray not. But I fear it will be the last statement anyone hears this year.
The needless sicknesses and unnecessary deaths of its citizens should never be the policy of a decent state.
Tennesseans can and should expect more.
It is time. Long, long past time. INSURE TENNESSEE NOW.