Today, President Obama signed health care reform into law. This is a staggering achievement for his presidency, for the Democratic Party, American liberalism, and the country as a whole. It's easy for me to focus on the back and forth of the debate, and that's the most interesting thing to write about, but it's worth keeping in mind the overriding fact that millions of Americans will have a better life as a result of this for decades to come.
I don't want to overstate the role in this of our little magazine. But we take a great deal of pride in this triumph, because it fulfills our shared vision. Jonathan Cohn has amassed enormous expertise on this topic over the last decade and a half. Most of that time was long years when his obsession was little more than a Quixotic task in an overwhelmingly hostile political landscape. When Franklin Foer assumed the editorship of TNR four years ago, the first thing he did was assign Jonathan to wrote a lead editorial insisting that liberals make comprehensive health care reform their highest priority, to to further direct him to continue an editorial crusade on this subject. His clear-eyed and extraordinarily fair-minded writing has informed my thinking on this topic, and I'm sure the same is true of many of you.
You can read that editorial here:
Over the last 25 years, liberalism has lost both its good name and its sway over politics. But it is liberalism's loss of imagination that is most disheartening. Since President Clinton's health care plan unraveled in 1994-- a debacle that this magazine, regrettably, abetted--liberals have grown chastened and confused, afraid to think big ideas. Such reticence had its proper time and place; large-scale political and substantive failures demand introspection, not to mention humility. But it is time to be ambitious again. And the place to begin is the very spot where liberalism left off a decade ago: Guaranteeing every American citizen access to affordable, high-quality medical care. ...