The word “historic” took on new meaning Sunday night when the health care bill won the magic number of 216 votes. Access to health care for all Americans has been on the agenda for more than 60 years. No President succeeded until Barack Obama and the Congress succeeded, sadly without one Republican vote.
That night I was in Detroit where I had given a speech to Michigan Democrats - a state with more than 15% unemployment - the highest in the country. The pain in the room was palpable. Everyone knew someone who had lost a job, and with it, their insurance.
But the mood was euphoric. It was hard to suppress cheers before the vote was counted.
The drama that preceded the vote was tense. Do they or don’t they have the votes? Not until a compromise was forged with Rep. Bart Stupak and the President on the abortion issue did we know the answer.
One episode in the drama confirmed my belief that women in leadership often tend to see the world differently than men. That was when 56,000 Catholic nuns took on the Bishops by supporting the Senate version of the bill, which the Bishops opposed. The care giving nuns who stood at the bedside understood that lives would be saved when more people could get health care. This was not an ideological battle, but a human one.