Goldberg: Health care faltering in debates

On Saturday, the House of Representatives passed the Affordable Health Care for America Act with a vote of 220 to 215.

This calls for supporters of the Democrats' plan for health care reform to celebrate, but not to rest. This was the easy part; the road ahead will be tumultuous.

Saturday's vote revealed an alarming unity amongst Republicans to stop this bill from passing - only one Republican, Anh "Joseph" Cao of Louisiana's 2nd Congressional District, voted in favor of the bill. This is a testament to the partisan divide that has taken over the debate. Most Democrats want to pass the legislation, and virtually all Republicans want to kill it.

This is unfortunate, as it is times like these when I ask myself - as should you - if politicians select an ideological camp first, and then decide how they feel about the issues, or if they pick a political party after careful introspection and evaluation.

It is hard for me to believe that members of one of the two major political parties in the United States can be so homogeneous in opinion, given the wide umbrella each party holds up to cover as many similar but diverse belief sets as possible.

The parties in this country aren't extremes, but are fairly close to the middle of the political spectrum when examined generally. Therefore, it is reasonable to expect more diversity of opinion.

Hopefully my unease is unwarranted; hopefully this is simply an issue so significant that all Republicans truly feel the same way about it. That doesn't change the difficulty characteristic of the journey to passing the bill in the Senate.

Democrats do not have the sweeping support in the Senate that they have in the House. There are members of their own party who do not support the bill, and certainly very little, if any, support can be expected from Senate Republicans.

Given this bill's significance due to President Barack Obama's prioritizing of domestic issues, however, this is not a fight that will be given up because of a lack of support, or even overwhelming opposition. The debate will be fierce and there will be numerous cases of proposed amendments, alternate legislation and a lot of filibustering.

But supporters of health care reform should not be discouraged. Continue to speak in favor of the bill, and continue to fight intelligently, respectfully and honestly against opposing arguments. If someone truly, definitely changes your opinion, accept that. Don't cling to the opinion that you think someone in your political party should have. That would be unacceptable in Congress, and you should make it unacceptable for yourself.

So now I call out to our Senators. Debate and vote, but do it honestly. Do not say what you think you have to say to appease your constituency. Do not say what you think you should say to appease your party leaders. Say what you think is right, and stand by it. I have faith that at the end of it all, out great democratic republic's system of government will pass the right legislation, no matter whose plan it is.

Jesse Goldberg is a sophomore English major who, having ironically written health care to death, will be watching the news with interest.