Wednesday, October 14, 2009

« When history calls, history calls » Olympia Snowe wins my heart

On Tuesday, October 13, 2009, I felt this deep “pride to be an americain”. I woke up, went to work, still not knowing who Olympia Snowe was. My work day was quite full, and I saw her name on the Internet headlines, and briefly learnt that she is a senator from Maine. For the Frenchie that I am, not having grown up in the US, I have found it difficult at times, regarless of how politicized I am, to follow the tribulations of the US senators.

Of course, it turns out that her name became the buzz of the day: the finance committee was voting the Health reform that day. It passe with 14 votes against 9 and Olympia Snowe being the only Republican to vote in favor of this reform. By doing so, she transformed this debate and this proposal into a bipartisan one, taking this further than it's been in years. The urge for a health care reform was put on the table many times but always dropped (for as long as I can remember since I moved here in 1999)

On Google, the buzz stock exchange, « Olympia Snowe » was propulsed to the number one search and stayed there most of the day in front of prestigious US football players. Obama acknowledged here in his afternoon poised and discreet speech following the results of the finance committee.

Let me take this opportunity to clarify something: in France, you would never see this. You would never see a left-wing person support a political effort from the right, and you would never see the left and the righ come togher to tackle a question as adventurous as a Health care reform.

It's fair to say that here in the US, even the supporters of the Health car reform had grown sick of this ludicrous debate and tis ramifications, but for it to pass the Finance Committee today was crucial. This is something I would not have believed was possible a few months ago. On the further left, politicians are disappointed that there is no public option in this reform and that it's not “good enough”, but no one can deny that it is a bipartisan bill. Even Howard Dean was hesitant to criticize this progress, stating that “he didn't want to be a jerk”.

As for the buzz around Olympia Snowe, I was quite skeptical today. For some reason, my reaction was quite prejudiced, and I thought that maybe this is someone who simply wants the media coverage. Coming back from work, I went to my Mac Book Pro, which has been my tv for a while, and turned it on to view some footage.

And when I did, something happened. I saw this Olympia Snowe that I knew nothing about less than ten hours ago. Poised, with a good head on her shoulder, she exuded something that any senator should exude: this awareness of the fact that she carries on her shoulder something much greater than her own little self. Unlike other attention-whore senators, this woman screamed “I am not playing a game”, and just by heargin her voice and viewing her body language, I felt it. She simply “had me”

She spoke about « the monumental issue of our time », stating that « When history calls, history calls ».

Senator John Kerry reiterated by saying « if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem ».

And I must say that watching this today simply brought tears to my eyes. It was the american system at its best. Brilliant debates, brilliant senators, and regardless of what happens in the next few days or weeks, this moment has made history. It was simply some kick-ass americain bipartisanship in action, it was people coming together to acknowledge the urgency.

I went to bed that day with pride. I know that no matter what happens, I live in a terrific country with a system that is not flawless but still terrific. God bless America, my home sweet home!

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