File:Obama signing health care-20100323.jpg

One thing I have noticed since Obama was elected is that corporate influence in Washington has suddenly become much more visible. Part of it is just a matter of timing. When the financial system collapses, something must be done (we do, after all, need a financial system) and obviously the needs of banks will figure heavily into whatever that something is. But the healthcare industry and the oil and coal industries are suddenly very loud because now we have a president who is serious about addressing the problems of healthcare and climate change.

What really baffles me is that many on the right seem to be fighting tooth and nail for the rights of the very industries that exploit them. Part of this support is obviously manufactured, “Astroturf” support. These are employees within these industries that are herded onto buses and given signs to wave at rallies. But we shouldn’t dismiss this kind of support as fake. Most people believe whatever the people around them believe, and if you are a coal worker, you probably believe in the future of coal. The irony is that these same people one hundred years ago would have been rallying for better wages and safer working conditions, not for the political supremacy of their masters. But other protesters believe in the rights of the rich because everyone in America believes he will some day be rich. In reality, the odds are against it, and for those who plan to be really super rich, the odds are really super against it. And whoever does become rich will be able to hire experts to help him solve his particular problems, while the average citizen will not have that luxury.

Despite this really visible opposition to change, or perhaps because of it, I am starting to feel the slightest bit…hmm, what’s the word…un-pessimistic. The opposition grows as reform becomes more likely. People are starting to see through the bluster and understand just how much the special interests are pulling the strings in congress. Even if this terrible Baucus bill passes just the way it is, real reform won’t be far behind.

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