Part of that direction, of course, involves ending the blatant pharmaceutical price fixing scheme that was erected by a conspiracy of the Bush Administration and Big Pharma. This scheme is also known as the Medicare discount drug plan, and it established a pharmaceutical monopoly whereby the federal government was not allowed to negotiate volume price discounts with drug companies. The result? A massive government handout to the wealthiest corporations in the nation: Drug companies.
Nancy Pelosi has promised to pass a bill ending this price fixing scheme within her first 100 hours as Speaker. But that doesn't mean the bill will become law, of course. Bush retains veto power, and he won't be afraid to use it to protect Big Business. Should he veto such a bill, however, his popularity would likely plummet even further, especially among state Governors who are currently dishing out countless millions of dollars under the financial burden imposed by the Medicare requirements. (The bookkeeping is complicated, but ultimately, states end up getting ripped off while drug companies rake in illicit profits.)
None of this means the Democrats are out to destroy Big Pharma, by the way. The drug industry routinely donates tens of millions of dollars to members of both parties, and more than a few Democrats are in the pockets of wealthy drug companies. In Washington, money talks, and nobody has more money than the drug companies which have created an entire industry out of ripping off consumers, hyping fictitious diseases, subjugating patient advocacy groups and hijacking modern medical science. Ending the evil of Big Pharma is going to take a lot more than merely electing a bunch of Democrats; it's going to take a revolution in medicine.
And that's not likely to happen any time soon. Disease is big, big business, and preventing disease on a national scale would devastate the pharmaceutical industry. Actually making the American people healthy is not in the interests of Big Pharma, and neither will it be anywhere near the top of any political agenda, regardless of who's in power. As such, socialized medicine will simply mean long wait times to get the same harmful treatments being dished out today.
The key question remaining, then, is how long will it take for the United States to go bankrupt due to health care costs? On that question, it really doesn't matter who's in power: both parties are driving us towards financial ruin for one reason or another, and neither party is interested in fundamentally reforming the health of the American population. As such, the final outcome is not in question. It's only a matter of when.
Yes, the Democrats have suddenly gained the upper hand. The people have voted against war, against corruption and against the tyrants currently running our nation. But they have only voted in reaction to what they hate or fear, not what they hope to create in the years ahead.
No candidate who won ran on a platform of fiscal sanity, disease prevention, and serious reforms in energy, education, campaign finance and environmental protection. (If I'm wrong about that statement, and there actually was such a sane candidate, they're clearly the rare exception.) Democrats mostly won on a national knee-jerk reaction to the behavior of the Republicans. The consensus seemed to be, "Anybody is better than the Republicans," and many people just voted for Democrats without knowing anything about the candidates' positions on important issues.
And thus, ultimately, we may have traded one form of tyranny for another. I happen to agree with the current assessment that the Republicans are extremely dangerous to America for a long list of reasons (freedom, health, ethics, etc.), and that Democrats are the best reasonable alternative for the moment, but I'm also acutely aware of the risk of voting out of reaction rather than careful contemplation. I'm also not so gullible as to believe that any political party operating under the current system is truly capable of the fundamental reforms that will be necessary to save America from self-destruction in the years ahead. Financially speaking, America is like a semi truck that has launched itself over a cliff, and the political candidates are squabbling about who's at the wheel during the head-first plunge onto the rocks below.
Out of this disaster, however, some important lessons may be learned for whatever future nation or nations rise from the ashes of America's probable demise. One lesson might be, "Never run a Democracy based on the votes of a population that's doped up on pharmaceuticals." All those drugs interfere with cognitive function, of course, and give people such short memories that they have no capacity to understand or consider the long-term implications of their decisions.
Another lesson might be, "If you want a true Democracy, get the representatives the hell out of the way." This whole business of a Congress is a leftover concept from the days before telecommunications, when cities and states needed representatives in Washington because there were no phones, not to mention the internet. And it is the lawmakers, of course, who are the gatekeepers of reform in this country. As such, they are targeted and quite effectively controlled by Big Business via lobbying, corruption and other dirty tricks. The system is outdated. We the People don't need representatives anymore. We're quite capable of phoning in (or mailing in, or clicking in) our own votes on legislative issues, thank you very much. Imagine a nation without the ridiculous Electoral College, without absurd gerrymandering, and without fat cat Senators who genuinely believe they are superior to the people they claim to represent.
But the real lesson in all of this is that we should never be fooled into thinking we can only affect political change from within the current system. Corrupt governments work hard to get people focused on thinking about elections, because it distracts the people from thinking about revolutions. And (peaceful) revolutions are the real way to get things done when it comes to progressive change. In the way I use the term, a "revolution" is simply consensus recognition that there's a better way to run a nation. It's how a nation adapts itself to move forward in changing times.
And let's hope America is willing to adapt. I'd much rather see it stick around than get clobbered by financial ruin. But the way things are headed today, financial ruin is only a matter of time, and health care is a very big part of that equation. When a nation spends twenty percent of its GDP on treating, but not curing, degenerative disease -- while refusing to support honest disease prevention -- the ultimate outcome is not in doubt.