Here Comes Trouble: Stories from My Life

"Outstanding…Moore Triumphs! Publishers Weekly

Mike & Friends Blog

Donna Smith

Donna Smith, American SiCKO, is executive director of the Health Care for All Colorado Foundation

January 21st, 2013 11:23 AM

A Pauper’s Inaugural: Mrs. Smith Bids Washington Farwell

Today marked a new beginning of sorts for the nation.  At least that’s what an inaugural celebration is slated to be.  With much pomp and fanfare, public leaders, like President Obama are installed in their positions and the world pauses to watch.  But some of us held different sorts of transitional events today, and in my case, I departed the Washington, D.C., area with little hesitation and watched a new period of life dawn at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains where the air is much fresher in so many ways.

In 2008 when I fought hard to live and work in our nation’s capital, I knew it would be challenging to advance work on a single-payer, Medicare for all for life health care reform effort.  I had no illusions in that regard.  And the difficulties I expected in fighting for reform all came to pass and then some.

Very few people in power in Washington – even those who are thought champions of an “everybody in, nobody out” system – are willing to risk their own political skins to stand for broader health reform.  Perhaps some just feel helpless against the power, money and influence of the for-profit forces of health providers, health insurance companies, huge pharmaceutical companies and the like.  Perhaps others do not wish to confront the anti-government zealots.  Still others don’t think a system based on insurance really is fundamentally broken.  The reasons aren’t as critical to me as the reality: few in power in Washington, D.C., are really on board with single-payer work on the national level.

The parts of the Washington scene I found most disconcerting were the systemic exclusion of people like me from the discussions and decisions about what people like me most need.  But, I remained determined to be heard and to make sure others would not ignore the needs of working people, working women, working poor, working without health care access, working without respect, working under the pressure of those who diminish others…  It isn’t an easy thing for every American who labors and who wishes to make a difference to do so.

Opportunity in America is tainted by human greed and lust for control over others. And Washington is full to the brim of the Beltway with that greed.  It isn’t just the Citizen’s United decision that dives that; it’s a much deeper and more fundamental reality of human behavior in America.  I sometimes grew as weary of those outside of government who were greedy to be anointed as power brokers as I did the politicians.  I met far too many people who were wealthy enough that they didn’t even need to work much who acted as though they could speak for me.  It was insulting too.

When the opportunity to return to Colorado opened up to me and with it the chance to be part of the terrific work going on here to advance health care for all without financial barrier, it was time to be honest with myself about the realities and the dimming potential for progress on the national front.  And it was time to embrace, and even celebrate, the parts of my background that are so little valued among the influential circles of the Washington elite inside and outside of our government but so celebrated in the state work underway in the state where I earned my college degree, was married and where my children were born and raised.

So as I was listening to the D.C. inaugural festivities on the radio and driving up to Denver for a meeting with my colleagues of the Health Care for All Colorado Foundation, I’ll admit I found it more than fitting to hear James Taylor singing “America the Beautiful” as I was literally in the shadow of the purple mountain’s majesty above the fruited plain that inspired the lyrics of that song.  I was going to be a part, once again, of solid, meaningful and valued work – my work.  As an aside, I really found it odd to have a 21-gun salute in D.C. for the President’s celebration even as we heard mention of the Newtown killings.  That was just those sorts of incongruences that reinforced the wisdom of my decision to leave.

Saying farewell to Washington meant being honest with myself about the best chances for actually making sure a health care system that protects and honors us all becomes a reality during my lifetime.  And after another bout with cancer this year, time certainly seems more of the essence than ever.  My humble inaugural took place quietly, around a dinner table, in a dear colleague’s home.  Together, we celebrated the new potential ahead and recommitted ourselves to seeing that our state and its people all have the chance for a good and decent life.

You must log in to comment.

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Log in | Register

FBI Uncovers Al-Qaeda Plot To Just Sit Back And Enjoy Collapse Of United States WASHINGTON—The FBI announced today that it has uncovered a...

Apr 15th
3:28 PM
Read More

Revealed: Rahm Emanuel's top donor bought stock in Marriott just before it was awarded huge contract As schools are closed and pensions cut,...

Apr 9th
2:00 PM
Read More

I'll be at First Time Fest today in New York City at the screening of my first film, Roger & Me. Loews Village 7 at 12:30 pm. Come see it on the big...

Apr 5th
9:48 AM
Read More

Revealed: Rahm Emanuel cuts public pensions, diverts money to benefit campaign donors If you've read the financial news out of Chicago the last...

Apr 4th
2:19 PM
Read More

Please take a moment today to think of Casey Austin Sheehan, son of Cindy and Patrick, who was murdered by U.S. foreign policy in Sadr City, Baghdad ten years...

Apr 4th
2:00 PM
Read More

ICYMI - I've joined this "thunderclap" to support the Connecticut legislators who voted yes on last year's Act Concerning Gun Violence...

Apr 3rd
7:38 PM
Read More

I've joined this "thunderclap" to support the Connecticut legislators who voted yes on last year's Act Concerning Gun Violence Prevention...

Apr 2nd
8:27 PM
Read More

I am opposed to the death penalty, but to every rule there is usually an exception, and in this case I hope the criminals at General Motors will be arrested...

Apr 1st
3:55 PM
Read More

How Long Some in the US Will Survive Under New Health Law Donna Smith Those who must access care to live and can afford it are not...

Mar 31st
10:13 PM
Read More

Last night, The Good Wife on the East Coast started 40 minutes late due to the overrun of the NCAA basketball game. If you had your DVR set for the show, you...

Mar 24th
5:41 PM
Read More

Watching films today, looking for the ones I'm going to pick for my film festival this summer. I (and a whole bunch of others!) have this thing we put on...

Mar 23rd
4:48 PM
Read More

When the U.S. Health Care System Keeps Killing, Who Cares Enough to Fight? Donna Smith We have largely forgotten that people are at...

Mar 21st
5:56 PM
Read More

Tell the White House not to give up on Dr. Vivek Murthy's nomination as Surgeon General despite the ferocious opposition from the NRA: Don't give...

Mar 21st
5:38 PM
Read More

This criminal would never see a jail cell, nor would his cronies. In fact, they'd later be rewarded with re-election: Presidential Address on War with...

Mar 19th
9:40 PM
Read More

The crime of the century -- our invasion & slaughter in Iraq -- started 11 years ago tonite in this 7pm (ET) hour, March 19th, 2003: CNN Coverage of...

Mar 19th
9:08 PM
Read More

Washington’s Back-to-the-Future Military Policies in Africa Nick Turse Nick Turse is an award-winning journalist, historian,...

Mar 17th
4:59 PM
Read More

"I think democracy is the most revolutionary thing in the world." -- Tony Benn, 1925-2014 Tony Benn in 'Sicko'

Mar 14th
10:07 AM
Read More

RIP Tony Benn, one of the UK's greatest leaders: Tony Benn, veteran Labour politician, dies aged 88 Former cabinet minister died at...

Mar 14th
9:53 AM
Read More

Please read this important story from K. Ford K.: Am I the Face of the New American Middle Class? I began to feel I had slipped so low...

Mar 13th
2:24 PM
Read More

Yesterday Dianne Feinstein revealed that the CIA has been spying on the Senate Intelligence Committee. This is all about the report the committee has produced...

Mar 12th
6:48 PM
Read More

Health Care for All Colorado has brought Mercy Killers, a show written and performed by Michael Milligan about our murderous for-profit healthcare system, to...

Mar 10th
1:08 PM
Read More

Health Care Dramas that Sting and Why We Have to Watch Donna Smith The realities Milligan has written into the show cut deep into...

Mar 10th
1:02 PM
Read More

Did you know the Lehrer Newshour on PBS has been produced for 20 years by a company owned by conservative cable billionaire John Malone? Me neither. After...

Mar 7th
8:39 PM
Read More

Mr. Obama, if int’l law is so damn crucial . . . | The Russian intervention deserves criticism. But let’s be clear. The...

Mar 6th
1:21 PM
Read More

Enron billionaire John Arnold thinks everyone should believe him when he says we've got to cut pensions because he's so incredibly rich: John...

Mar 5th
4:20 PM
Read More

More in David Sirota's continuing series on the billionaire takeover of PBS: More PBS conflict woes as activists move to eject David Koch from board of...

Mar 3rd
12:35 PM
Read More

Ukraine: One ‘Regime Change’ Too Many? Ray McGovern Is “regime change” in Ukraine the bridge too far for the neoconservative...

Mar 2nd
9:25 PM
Read More

Latest from David Sirota on Enron billionaire John Arnold smuggling anti-pension propaganda into "neutral" institutions like PBS and now, the...

Mar 1st
12:58 PM
Read More

Second Guessing a Life: US Health Care System Robs Security and Human Dignity Donna Smith The dysfunction of the US health care system...

Feb 27th
1:40 PM
Read More

Subscribe to Mike's Blog RSS

Click here to suggest an article

Mike's Blog

See More Blogs

Vew the archives

View older articles