Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Let It Snowe Let It Snowe Let It Snowe

Fresh and refreshing, the first snow of the season is always greeted with some grumbles in Chicago, but also with great wonder at what natural beauty the sky can render. So, too, Olympia Snowe brings a refreshing, if ire-inducing to some, newness to the political season. It has been widely reported today that Senator Snowe will vote to approve the Senate Finance Committee's bill on health care reform. And while the great majority of politicians only mimic the folkloric right of a woman to change her mind, Snowe has the rare distinction of actually being a woman, and so retained the right to enter a different vote if circumstances change.It is, of course, not entirely shocking that she is willing to vote with the committee. Most of the summer was spent covering Snowe and her looming decision on this subject. The conventional wisdom had it that she'd be the only Republican to vote affirmatively. The hair-sprayed, blue-suited, talking manikins on cable news spent a good long time discussing it, the possibility of it, the likelihood of it and the consequences if she did or didn't vote as they had prescribed. Now that she's made a decision, there's something new to be reported upon and discussed.If she does, indeed vote to approve the bill, it will be a huge step in a gigantically new direction for the United States. We could debate endlessly about whether or not this bill is the right bill. I'm not interested in that conversation any longer. What I am interested in is making a decision and moving forward. What's more, if Snowe's decision causes others to pause and re-evaluate their motives then she serves an even more valuable role in the process than simply offering a vote. She'll serve to lead the way, just as others in moments of historical import have done.Others like John Hancock. I recently had a conversation with my children about one of the world's most famous signatures, explaining the term "Give me your John Hancock." I pulled up a copy of the Declaration to show them how Hancock fearlessly wrote his name in big bold letters across the document that gave us some of that freedom we so petulantly bicker over today. I imagine his signature meant 'I don't care what others think. I believe in this. And I am not afraid to do what I believe is right.' In so doing, Hancock attributed his brave signature to these fine words which open the Declaration of Independence: When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.In the context of the discussion on health care reform, I wonder if anyone other than Olympia Snowe has thought about the less severe, but no less necessary, need for a dissolution of political bands to assume a station that the laws of nature and God entitle them to assume - a station with fair and accessible healthcare, a station where the compassion of one's fellow citizen is not viewed as encroachment on liberty but rather as birthright and certainty. I applaud Olympia Snowe for dispensing with the irrelevant political ties to which she could have felt obligated in order to draw a stronger bond between herself and her constituents. She places her convictions above bias, declaring as cause for her separation from her party "when history calls, history calls".I'll have another conversation with my children tonight, about the importance of acting on your beliefs. I shall remind them never to be quiet signers. I will impolore them to sign boldly, stand firmly, and declare themselves with the strength of their beliefs behind them. And I'll make sure to tell them that Senator Olympia Snowe is doing just that.

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