"Bring us together" doesn't sound very good to me since he is not specifying exactly which compromises of progressive principles he will sacrifice to get us to this consensus. If we are so unlucky as to end up with him as the nominee I think his followers may end up severely disillusioned when they find out what he means. Republicans know only one form of "consensus", which is "Do it our way or else."
Young people who are inexperienced with politics may be fooled by all this "coming together" talk, but Obama is just another very smart politician with great showmanship and an ear for what people want to hear.
As a state the Massachusetts plan does not offer a public health coverage plan, the way the Clinton plan does, this is a critical difference. Her plan does not force people to buy private insurance the way the Massachusetts plan does, one can opt for the public plan, which could eventually become "Medicare for All", the Holy Grail of progressive goals. The Obama plan fall far short of that, and there is no reason to believe his plan would ever lower insurance costs without a mandate.
How will it play out in America? Poorly. That is exactly why I insist loudly to you that she is the more courageous of the candidates. When people claim she is poll-driven I say, simply look at what she is taking on and explain to me where she has taken the easy road...?
But with her quiet guts she just might be able to get us to single payer, with all elbows flying to get us there. Her default public program will be there to provide real coverage, and all those people crowing about how government cannot do anything right will be changing their tune. Progressives should be standing with her on this. It will be a rocky ride, but she is taking the first steps.
I am a single payer advocate, and I have decided to support the individual mandate for a very complex reason - because it is unworkable (the insurance industry cannot produce affordable AND comprehensive insurance packages that will pay for what people need and protect them from financial ruin) and it will force the health care coverage issue to the top position in priorities for the entire American public. Right now the vast majority of people who have never faced serious illness do not realize how inadequate their insurance is, and do not understand the need to completely revamp the system.
The individual mandate system which is undergoing it's first trial in real life in Massachusetts this year is far outstripping the original estimates of cost. But it has performed a tremendous good, as well. The number of poor and low income people who qualify for Medicaid or 100% insurance subsidy (called Commonwealth Care) have almost ALL signed up for coverage. Normally only about 45% of eligible people actually sign up for these free programs, for a multitude of reasons. With the mandate, they are signing up at a rate over 90%, considered to be an impossible rate to reach up until now. So for the poor and low income the "individual mandate" actually has turned out to be the de facto opposite - it is more like a mandate on government to provide health insurance for the those who cannot afford it. It includes preventive care and other smart, progressive aspects that no state has ever before achieved.
On the other hand, with the mandate the middle class will have to mobilize the political will to fight down the insurance and pharmaceutical industries along with any elected willing to stand up to them. This is why as a former Kucinich supporter, I now support Hillary Clinton's health care plan. Barack Obama's plan lacks teeth and courage, and won't work. It's a proposal to keep the status quo. It is incoherent, because if not everyone is included in the insurance risk pool, they will wait until they are sick, and then sign up for the public plan and take advantage of it, without having paid into it. That doesn't make any economic sense, and will never work. It has to be "everyone in, nobody out."
I trust that when the US middle class really understands the depth to which our health care system is broken beyond repair, they will force real reform, not tinkering around the edges, just as they rejected the privatization of Social Security.
I also trust Hillary Clinton to get the job done, she "gets" how difficult it will be. If you actually study her plan, you will see she is the more progressive and courageous of the candidates, with an amazing depth of understanding on this issue.
For a while after I was disabled as a first responder at 9-11, I volunteered at Senator Clinton's district office to help field the countless incoming calls from constituents. As a trusted person I was given the job of reading constituent mail and distributing it to the appropriate staff for reply. I read many, many letters from small town constituents, many died in the wool Republicans, who expressed their shock and immense gratitude that she came back and kept all the campaign promises she had made to them. I cannot recall the exact words, but a typical letter would say, "You told us that the first thing you would do after getting elected was to come back and take care of [our problem], and we though you were being nice and we would never see you again. We were astounded when the next day after you were sworn in we got a call from your office that you would be arriving... we never expected that from any politician, never mind a Democrat." There was no press involved, no photo op, no fanfare for Senator Clinton, she simply delivered. I believe she will deliver on her promises, and can return the US government to competence and trustworthiness again.
Amorphous promises of change from someone who votes "present" so he won't be controversial later is a very risky business indeed, with only 3 years of experience as a Senator. Senator Clinton has been through 9-11 and understands all too well what is at stake. She may not be a rock star of an orator, but I want a president who has the background to take care of business, and she is solid through and through.