In the Old Testament of the Bible, the Prophet Elijah is praying for rain after a long drought. He sends his servant out to look at the sky for signs that his prayers are being heard by the Lord. The servant returns several times to say that the sky is still clear. Then, in a dramatic moment, he returns to say that he sees a small cloud the size of a man’s fist. Soon the sky is full of clouds and the prayed for rain comes.
A cloud the size of a fist appeared today in the United States. Let me explain.
The fist sized cloud of bi-partisanship floated, at least for a little while, through the halls of the Senate chambers today It came after a vote on a proposed bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, or ACA. better known as Obamacare, was pulled. It had been crafted by a secretive committee made up of majority Republicans, who need it to become the law of the land to fulfill a promise made by so many of them on the 2016 campaign trail.
Almost everyone in the world, it seems, knows it is a highly unpopular bill that has many Americans truly frightened about their futures. It promises to severely cut funding for healthcare now available through the ACA while at the same time providing savings that will then be passed along to the wealthiest one per cent. The Republicans have tried very hard not to include the Democrats on the other side of the aisle, or the public, for that matter, in the deliberations regarding the bill. They will not consider any compromise save the one they seek from their own fractious party. Even the thought of working with those Democrats, their fellow legislators and fellow Americans, seems repugnant to them. To some of them, that is, and this is where the fist shaped cloud comes in.
A handful of Senate Republicans have begun to talk about giving up on what has become shameless, back room, self-serving partisan politics in favor of a more egalitarian process in which the opinions of others are not only listened to, but included in the finished product. It could mean that the best of both worlds could make healthcare in this country reflect our national wealth and wisdom. It would be an example of true representative government, a sample of what the United States really stands for. The people of this country would be the ultimate victors if it would just rain.
The fist shaped cloud must grow. It must grow from the slightest promise of bi-partisan precipitation to become an overwhelming sky-filling cloud. It must bring the refreshing and restorative showers of compromise on duly elected representatives of the people willing to work together. The fist shaped cloud of bi-partisanship must water the garden of small “d” democracy to keep America the great country it is and has been all along. It must fall gently on statesmen and stateswomen for whom the long-term welfare of the people outweighs short term political pandering to a base that is eroding daily.
When it has done that, the fist shaped heart of America will beat and be heard around the world.