President Obama’s speech to Congress last night reset the debate and struggle for real health care reform. No one thought that the reform of our nation’s health care system would be easy to begin with, but what transpired recently – the fierce counter attack by the right-wing extremists, the letting loose of the demagogues of hatred, fear, racism, and division, and the digging in of private insurance companies and other sections of corporate America – proved to be a sobering reminder that the political terrain and initiative can shift in the direction of one’s foes, as it did this summer.

But it also can shift back as happened last night, thanks to the president’s intervention in this bitter and bruising struggle.

By the speech’s end, supporters of health care reform were re-energized, its opponent dispirited, the public much better informed, the case for a governmental role well articulated, and the moral high ground regained by the president and the coalition that elected him.

What the president’s speech didn’t and couldn’t do was seal the deal on the language and details of that bill. In other words, there will be a health care bill on the president’s desk later this fall, but what is still to be decided is its precise content and scope.

So the struggle goes on.

The opponents of health care reform may have lost ground last night, but don’t expect either them or the advocates in both parties of “health care lite” to fold up their tent. In its editorial today, the Wall Street Journal appealed for “popular mobilization” to oppose the bill and John McCain showed little interest in giving ground on the Today show this morning.

As for the supporters of health care reform, we have to be every bit as tenacious as right-wing reaction. Justice, morality, and truth are on our side, but they are not enough. Only when combined with persistence, united action, and struggle over the bill’s content, including a public option, will real health care reform see the light of day.




Sam Webb
Sam Webb

Sam Webb is a long-time socialist and activist living in New York. He served as the national chairperson of the Communist Party from 2000 to 2014. Previously, he was the state organizer of the Communist Party in Michigan. Earlier, he was active in the labor movement in his home state of Maine. He blogs at