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Yes We Can (Be Healthy): Obama’s Healthcare Agenda

By Lindsay Beyerstein, TMC MediaWire Blogger.

Before a cheering crowd in Chicago, Barack Obama thanked his supporters, his campaign staffers, his running mate, and his family for his historic victory.

I hope he also sends a nice note to Sarah Palin. He couldn’t have done it without her.

Palin was chosen for her impeccable culture war credentials in the hopes of galvanizing the Republican base. Ironically, Palin energized the conservative base and the progressive base, in equal but opposite measure.

Palin’s candidacy, as the running mate of a 72-year-old cancer survivor, forced us to imagine a young earth creationist, anti-abortion zealot in the White House. To their great credit, Americans said, "Thanks but no thanks."

The Obama victory can be seen as a mandate for science and rationality across the board, especially in health care policy. The economic crisis has become an excuse to ignore health care, but nothing could be more shortsighted.

Election night also saw anti-choice ballot initiatives defeated in Colorado, California, and South Dakota.

RH Reality recaps the ballot battles: Colorado voters overwhelmingly rejected a ballot initiative that would have given human rights to fertilized eggs, South Dakota’s notorious Measure 11 was defeated, and the latest California parental notification bill stalled out.

Had it passed, Measure 11 would have been the most sweeping abortion ban in the post-Roe era. Measure 11 was billed as a kinder, gentler, saner version of the old South Dakota abortion ban, but the anti-choicers weren’t fooling anyone. The bill’s so-called health exemption only applied to women facing organ failure.

William Smith hopes that the Obama administration will put an end to the boondoggle of abstinence only indoctrination. Obama pledged to take a scalpel to the budget and excise programs that don’t work. Abstinence only education should be the first to go. It doesn’t work. It devalues gays and women while misleads about science. And to top it all off, it’s a $200 million/year wingnut welfare program. It’s time to cut it out.

So, does an Obama victory mean the end of the culture wars? Not likely. Although, according to Mike Madden, the mood at New Life Church, ground zero of American fundamentalism, was uncharacteristically subdued in the week before the election.

Yet, the religious right is nothing if not resilient. After getting trounced 3 to 1 in Colorado, champions of egg personhood reacted by forming a nationwide organization, Personhood USA, to fight for ovo-Americans nationwide.

Lest our own victories make us complacent, we should remember that gay rights are under siege nationwide. Voters in California, Arizona, Florida, and Arkansas approved ballot measures restricting the rights of gay couples to marry. In Mother Jones, Richard Kim discusses California’s notorious Proposition 8, which revokes same sex marriage in California.

The pundits are already wagging their fingers at San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and gay rights activists for overplaying their hand and demanding too much, too fast.

They’re thinking small. The culture warriors have never been afraid to seize the initiative or press their advantage.

Maybe progressives should take a page from the right wing playbook. The Defense of Equal Marriage Act has a nice ring to it. How about it, President Obama?

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about health care. Visit Healthcare NewsLadder.net for a complete list of articles on healthcare affordability, healthcare laws, and healthcare controversy. Also check out and vote on the best progressive reporting on the economy and immigration.

This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of 50 leading independent media outlets, and created by NewsLadder.

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